Frequently Asked Questions about Domain Name Registration and Trademark Laws

When looking to buy a domain name to build out your online business, it’s easy to overlook domain name trademark aspect. However, determining whether your domain name is within the realm of law is vital to ensuring that you avoid legal hassles in the course of building your business. Domain name trademark infringement may bring a whole lot of inconvenience and loss to your business. You might be forced to acquire an entirely new address, endure the burden of registering a new domain name and begin building your brand from scratch or incur heavy penalties. To get more insights into domain name trademarks, read and understand the following frequently asked questions:

·Domain name registration and trademarks 1: How does a domain name meet trademark eligibility?

A domain name example, eBay.com, can meet the criteria of a trademark when it’s used to run a website that centers on providing services to the general public. Examples of websites that provide services to the public include e-commerce stores like Amazon, eBay, and BigCommerce or gmail.com that extend web-oriented services to the public. While some categories of domain names can conveniently enjoy trademark protection, others may not. For instance, domain names such as domainfinder.com, health consultants.com or flowershop.com may not be able to qualify for trademark protection because such domain name owners may not do much to prevent other potential domain name owners from using those words or phrases. Essentially, such generic words or phrases do not wholly describe a service the business offers. They are vague.

·Domain name registration and trademarks 2: How can a domain name owner determine that their chosen domain name is trademarked or not by another person?

The explosion of websites has brought a lot of confusion in the e-commerce space. It’s hard to locate a specific website because most domain names look alike. So most business owners trademark their domain names to ensure that doesn’t happen. The only way to ascertain that a domain name hasn’t been snapped up and trademarked is to perform domain search availability via the most renowned registrars. For further verification, you can check through the ICANN website. ICANN is responsible for managing all domain name registration in the world. These domain registrars’ websites have powerful search features that bring you your domain name status in only a matter of minutes. If you’re met with a ‘’domain name already taken’’ tag, you can continue to find out the details of the domain name owner through the Whois directory.

·Domain name registration and trademarks 3: What steps should a domain name owner take when they find a conflict between their chosen domain name and an existing trademark?

Note that even if a corporate possesses a registered trademark name, another person can register the domain name and acquire the rights. For instance, many corporations have registered the trademark ‘’corporate’’ for selling a huge range of products and services to the public. These companies may all want to register the domain name www.corporate.com, but the first company to do so gets the exclusive trademark rights to use the domain name.

Also, a cybersquatter may beat these companies to registering that particular domain name and sell it to them at a premium price. The law allows such companies to sue such cyber squatters if they feel the name was registered illegally through ICANN.

·Domain name registration and trademarks 4: Is it possible for an already operating entity to trademark a domain name for later use?

Yes. An already operating entity or business can trademark a domain name by completing an ITU (Intent To Use) with the relevant trademark body before using the domain. But there is a catch: The entity must start using the trademarked domain name within the stipulated period (usually 3 to 12 months) set by the concerned trademark body after successful trademark approval.

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