Is Your Domain Name
A Trademark Infringement?
I recently received
an email from a concerned, fellow Internet business owner, asking for my
opinion on an issue that could literally destroy his Internet business and
the business of several other domains involved.
He had received legal notice from a prominent company, stating that he needed
to relinquish his use and rights to his web site domain name because it contained
three letters that infringed upon their trademark and their domain name.
This same company also contacted several other Internet business owners and
made similar demands.
Should a company that registers a specific trademark have the ability to
destroy numerous businesses that legitimately registered domain names? Should
a company that registers a trademark have the responsibility of ensuring
that a domain name registration agency doesn't issue domain names that may
be a trademark infringement? Or should an Internet business have the
responsibility of making sure a potential name doesn't Infringe upon a registered
trademark? Where does the responsibility lie?
Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the domain name registrant, as the
trademark laws that apply in the hard copy world also apply on the Internet.
Any company that registers a trademark has the right to protect their trademark
and has the right to notify you that your domain name is infringing upon
their trademark. Why? If your domain name has the potential of confusing
the public into thinking the trademark holder is somehow affiliated with
your web site, they may bring infringement claims against you. The courts
would have to make the decision based upon the trademark laws and if your
domain name, in fact, has the potential of confusing the public.
registrants can protect themselves as well. If you have a registered domain
name that doesn't infringe upon any trademarks, you too may be able to register
a trademark. Registering a domain name as a trademark isn't easy, but it
can be done. Although you can't register the http://www.or the .com, if the
use of your name fits the laws criteria, it can be registered. You should
consult with an attorney familiar with the Internet, trademarks and the laws
prior to registering your domain name as a trademark.
For a complete explanation, visit:
As stated by the United States Patent and Trademark Office,
"A mark composed of a domain name is registerable as a trademark or service
mark only if it functions as a source identifier. The mark as depicted on
the specimens must be presented in a manner that will be perceived by potential
purchasers as indicating source and not as merely an informational indication
of the domain name address used to access a web site." In other words, the
use of a domain name must not be used simply as an address to direct customers
to your web site, but must be used to identify the products or services of
the business claiming the trademark, which provides products or services
via the Internet.
If you're in the market for a domain name, you may want to consider searching
the Trademark Electronic Search System,
prior to registering a domain name. By researching the trademark regulations
and knowing your rights, whether you hold a trademark or a domain name, you
may be able to avoid the possibility of litigation.
Copyright © Shelley
About the Author:
Shelley Lowery is the author of the acclaimed web design course, Web Design
And, Ebook Starter - Give Your Ebooks the look and feel of a REAL book.
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