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What is an SMD file?

An SMD (Signed Mark Data) file is a digital document that proves a company or any entity is a registered trademark owner and that they are also registered as such with the TMCH (the Trademark Clearinghouse). It also serves as a passport or proof of the trademark owners’ eligibility to register domain names during the Sunrise period of generic TLDs, as well as to request other related services.

Sunrise period is a pre-launch phase of new gTLDs mandated by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). During this phase, which usually lasts from 30 to 60 days, trademark owners get the privilege to register 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.

What is the purpose of an SMD file?

A trademark is essential for business because it represents your company or organisation. This is why protecting your trademark is very important. With an SMD file, it means that your trademark has been verified by the TMCH (the Trademark Clearinghouse), and that you have the right to register (before anyone else) the domain names relevant to your trademark whenever there is a new gTLD. This way, you can safeguard your trademark in the vast expanse of the internet.

For instance, you have property rights to Lavender Skies and you have registered it with TMCH. When a new gTLD comes out, you can submit your SMD file for that trademark to your registrar as proof that you own it and you can register the domain name lavenderskies.(new gTLD) weeks before the new gTLD becomes available to the general public.

Important note: SMD files that were downloaded on or before December 14, 2013 have been revoked by the Trademark Clearinghouse. In connection to this, trademark holders and agents with SMD files generated before the date are advised to log in to their respective TMCH accounts and download a new SMD file before registering a domain during the Sunrise period.

What is inside 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:

Marks The trademark that the SMD file refers to (e.g. Lavender Skies)
smdID A unique identifier for the SMD file (e.g. smdID: 1-2)
U-labels The labels that the trademark holder can use to register domain names during Sunrise periods. (e.g. U-labels: lavender-skies, lavenderskies)
notBefore The start date of the SMD file's validity. (e.g. notBefore: 2016-10-06 09:00)
notAfter 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, 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
        smdID: 1-2
        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 of 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.

Who can get an SMD file?

All trademark holders who submitted an application and has been verified by TMCH gets an SMD file.

How to get an SMD file?

The only organisation authorised to provide SMD files is The Trademark Clearinghouse. If you have a trademark and you want to get an SMD file for it, you can do the following:

  1. Go to The Trademark Clearinghouse website and register as a Trademark holder.
  2. Once you have successfully registered, you can then submit an application to have your trademark verified.
  3. Once your trademark is verified, you can download your SMD file via your account.
Important note: Before you submit an application, make sure all your information about your trademark are correct. Applications with incorrect information will be deemed invalid and you will not get a refund of the registration fee.

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 registers a domain name that matches your trademark.

If you want to know more about what a TLD is, click here.

If you want to know how to register a new domain name, click here.

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