A Signed Mark Data (SMD) File is a digital document that proves that a company or any entity is a registered trademark owner and that they are also registered as such with the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH). It also serves as a passport or proof of the trademark owners’ eligibility to register domain names during the Sunrise Period of Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs), as well as to request for other related services.
Sunrise Period is a pre-launch phase of new gTLDs mandated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). During this phase, which usually lasts from 30 to 60 days, trademark owners get the privilege to register ahead the domain names related to their trademark or brand name with the new gTLD before the said TLD becomes available to the general public. Trademark holders do this in order to protect their brand or trademark.
For instance, you have property rights to example brand “Lavender Skies” and you have registered it with TMCH. When a new gTLD comes out, you can submit to your registrar the SMD File for that trademark as a proof that you own it. Hence, you can register the domain name lavenderskies.(new gTLD) ahead of time even before that new gTLD becomes available to the general public.
What Composes an SMD File
An SMD File is not merely a text file. It is actually a combination of human-readable text and machine-readable code.
Here are the parts of an SMD File:
||The trademark that the SMD File refers to (e.g. Lavender Skies)
||A unique identifier for the SMD File (e.g. smdID: 1-2)
||The labels that the trademark holder can use to register domain names during Sunrise Periods. (e.g. U-labels: lavender-skies, lavenderskies)
||The start date of the SMD File's validity. (e.g. notBefore: 2016-10-06 09:00)
||The end date of the SMD File's validity. (e.g. notAfter: 2017-10-06 09:00)
Important Note: When you renew or update your SMD File, the TMCH generates a new SMD File for your trademark. Make sure to download the new SMD File when you renew or update so you have a valid copy.
When you open your SMD File with a text editor such as Notepad or Textedit, you will see something like this:
Marks: Lavender Skies
U-labels: lavender-skies, lavenderskies
notBefore: 2016-10-06 09:00
notAfter: 2017-10-06 09:00
-----BEGIN ENCODED SMD-----
-----END ENCODED SMD-----
According to TMCH, trademarks you submit to them is converted into readable domain name labels that are valid in the Domain Name System. You may register one or more domain name labels using your SMD, but each one should still depend on your submitted trademark.
Important Note: When you check your SMD File, make sure that it begins with the word “Marks” and ends with the phrase “-----END ENCODED SMD-----”.
The actual SMD Code can be found between the “BEGIN ENCODED SMD” and “END ENCODED SMD” labels. Be careful not to alter any of the string of alphanumeric characters you find here because doing so will invalidate your SMD File. Once an SMD is invalidated, whether it was due to a compromised SMD Code or the removal of a trademark record in TMCH, it will be considered revoked and unusable.
How to Get an SMD File
The only organisation authorised to provide SMD Files is the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH). If you have a trademark and you want to get an SMD File for it, you may do the following:
- Go to the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) website, and register as a Trademark Holder.
- Once you have successfully registered, you can then submit an application to have your trademark verified.
- Once your trademark has been verified, you can download your SMD File via your account.
Note: Before you submit an application, make sure that all the information regarding your trademark are correct. Applications with incorrect information will be deemed invalid and the registration fee will be non-refundable.
- Once you have successfully registered your trademark at TMCH, you will be eligible to register domain names that match your trademark during the Sunrise Period, as well as receive automatic notifications when there is a registrant who attempts to register a domain name that matches your trademark.
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