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Is Your Domain Name A Trademark Infringement?
By Shelley Lowery
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.
Domain name 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, http://www.uspto.gov/
"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.
About the Author
Shelley Lowery is the moderator of Article Announce Writer and Publisher Exchange - An article announcement list
providing free content to hundreds of ezines, newsletters, magazines and web sites. Writers announce your articles
free. Subscribe: mailto:email@example.com
Web Site http://www.web-source.net/articlesub.htm
Tags: Start and Run a Business