Domain Names and Trademarks
Domain name selection is very important in a trademark registration and a trademark infringement context. Entrepeneurs, inventors, and businesses often request our trademark attorney to trademark domain name. Internet uniform resource locator (URL) addresses, commonly known as “domain names,” may be protectible trademarks, depending on how they are used. No trademark protection is afforded to the beginning of a URL (“http://www”) or to top-level Internet domain name elements (e.g., “.com” or “.org”).
Domain names that appear prominently on products or, when used to promote services, appear prominently in advertising or on the Web site itself may constitute valid trademarks. If, however, a domain name is simply used as a URL for a Web site and does not appear prominently on the Web site itself, in advertising, or on the domain name owner’s products, the domain name will likely not qualify for trademark protection
As with merely descriptive or generic word trademarks, a domain name consisting of a merely descriptive or generic term to sell that type of product or service may be given little or no trademark protection.
Domain Name Trademark Infringement
Entrepreneurs and businesses adopting a new domain name, which may be different from their business name, should engage a trademark attorney to perform a trademark search of the proposed domain name before using the URL in the public domain. If an entrepreneur or business uses a domain with terms which are registered trademarks, the entrepreneur or business owner will be exposing themselves or their company to a potential trademark infringement lawsuit. Further, if the entrepreneur or business is put on notice that their domain names infringes on a registered trademark, the entrepreneur or business will be forced to spend considerable amounts of money and time rebranding, renamining the business and/or domain name.