Trademarks serve to identify the product or service a company offers. Domain names are the web addresses that companies use for clients to access their web sites. With the exponential growth of ecommerce and online marketing, both are just as important for a company's value and survival. Not having both of those elements of the company assets properly protected may be devastating for a business.
Trademark Domain Names: When to Do It
You may have the perfect trademark for your business, but what happens if the domain name is not available? It may not be worth the hassle of positioning your new brand in the market place if possible clients are unable to find you online easily through your trademark name.
Every business should aim to have identical trademarks and domain names for their business. This is not always possible if a correct strategy is not put in place from the start.
General Differences Between Trademarks and Domain Names
Trademarks protect the name or design a business uses to differentiate itself from competitors that offer similar goods or services.
Domain names are the words used to connect you with a website. Without domain names you would have to know the IP address of a website to access it.
A Trademark application is done before the patent and trademark office of the country in which you want to protect it. Trademark registration usually requires you to be represented by an IP law firm.
A domain name is registered through a domain name registry that is not necessarily associated with a specific country. As a general rule anybody can register a domain name directly through the registry and the services of a law firm are not necessary.
The trademark owner will only have rights to the trademark in the country or countries they have effectively registered the trademark in.
The domain name owner has exclusive rights to use the domain name as registered. Top level domains are accessible over the internet from anywhere in the world.
Even in a single country identical trademarks can be registered under different classes if they are for unrelated products or services.
In the case of domain names identical domain names cannot exist in a single top level domain. Top level domains is the last portion of a domain name. Examples of top level domains are “com”, “net and “org”.
Information about the trademark owner will always be publicly available.
Information about the owner of a domain name can be hidden in certain cases by paying extra fees.
A registered trademark constitutes intellectual property.
A domain name does not grant intellectual property rights.
Registering a Trademark Domain Name for New Domain Name Extensions
There are hundreds of domain name extensions that are currently available and new ones are constantly appearing. When new domain extensions appear they usually have a period in which trademark owners have priority to secure their domain name.
This is one of the reasons why trademarking your domain name is so important.
Sunrise period in domain name registration
When a new domain extension hits the market they usually have a period of time for trademark owners to register their domain name before anybody else. This is called the sunrise period.
If you do not have a trademark but want to secure the domain name you can file a trademark preventively in order to secure the domain name.
Depending on each case different countries can be considered to register the trademark. Contact us for more information if you have a specific domain extension you are interested in.
Landrush period in domain name registration
Once the sunrise period of a domain is finished the domain name registry will enter a landrush period. In this case first come, first serve will be the rule. Therefore, if your domain name is still not registered you should hurry to secure it.
How to protect your trademark domain names online
Register for different domain name extensions
Why only register your domain name as a “.com” and not protect the domain .net? We recommend preventively registering your trademark domain name for different extensions. Although hundreds of domain extensions exist, only a handful are easily recognizable by consumers.
Register variants of your trademark domain names
If your trademark is TODOO and your domain name is todoo.com, be careful that your competition does not register toodoo.com. Both are very similar and they may confuse your clients. Registering the domain names with typos or different phonetic spellings is always a good option.
What to do if your domain name is taken or you competitor has registered a similar domain name
If you have a registered trademark and a domain name similar to this trademark is being used in a way that affects your business, you may be a victim of trademark squatting. Trademark squatting affects a business similar to trademark infringement.
Trademark squatting exists when a domain name has been registered in bad faith. Depending on the domain name extension, different dispute processes exist. Most commonly used domain extensions fall under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).
Contact us if you have any questions on how to protect the domain names similar to your trademark.