The end of the year is quickly approaching and this is the most likely time for people to start new ventures and buy new domains. Finding the perfect name for your business and an available domain is tricky. There are a number of important aspects that many people overlook. In this series of articles Lexsynergy will be looking at just that.
Does someone own the trade mark?
A trade mark protects a brand and adds value. Trade marks are territorial and afford protection in the country or region it is registered and in relation to specific goods or services specified by the owner of the trade mark. You cannot register generic /descriptive marks. A descriptive mark being anything which describes the product/service in a general way.
By way of example 'Apple' might be a great name for a greengrocer, but as it is a generic term associated with the fruit it could not be registered in this category or class, whereas Apple is not a term related to computers and so is distinct enough to be registered.
A trade mark “is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods or service of one party from those of others.” They are enforced by the brands themselves and there can be hefty costs if someone is found to have knowingly infringed a trade mark.
Be cautious if:
Your desired domain includes a trade mark
Your desired domain is very close to a registered trade mark and could be confused with it
Tools you can use
WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) has a database covering a number of different trade mark registries around the world. Certain countries may not have an online trade mark database, but WIPO is a great starting point. It is important when searching to think about the services that you want to provide. A trade mark may exist with the same name, but if it is in a different category, then it may not be issue.
A quick Google search of the mark contained within your domain name is always worthwhile, and will also give you an idea of the different players in your industry. Bear in mind that just because a company exists, it doesn't necessarily mean they own the trade mark to that name. It may generally be better to avoid buying a domain where there is an existing business using or similar to that name.
What if I do breach trade mark?
If you infringe on a trade mark, even if it is by accident, you may receive a 'cease-and-desist' email from the trade mark owner. You would then have to defend your right to ownership or buy another domain and transfer it over. This can be avoided by doing your research before buying the domain!
Lexsynergy provide over 1000 domain extensions and can help you to find the perfect domain. We also work with trade mark owners to block, recover and protect their online domain portfolio. Start your search today.
The above information does not constitute legal advice but merely provider pointers.