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Domain Names & Trademarking:What You Need to Know

Create Time 2017-09-14 05:09    Views:790

What is a Domain Name?

     To put it simply, a domain name acts as an address that is used to identify and locate web pages on the Internet (for example, In fact, some of you reading this may have put hours into coming up with the perfect domain name for your business.  It’s important to note, though, that even the most original and creative domain name may still put you at risk from a legal perspective--as explained below.  

Why are Domain Names Important?

     For starters, the sheer number of online retailers entering today’s marketplace has drastically increased. Thanks to the relative ease and speed of Internet access worldwide, a business owner’s reach is no longer limited to their geographical location.  This also means that you, as a business owner, have more access to clients and consumers than any other time in history--and with less effort! 

As a result, the domain name of your company’s online presence is, without question, one of the most important aspects of your company in need of protection. Here’s the catch: Your domain name is not necessarily equivalent to your “trademark”.  In reality, your domain name may actually conflict with one of the many commercial names that are already registered as trademarks! This would put the availability of your domain name in jeopardy. Even worse, the money, time, and effort sunk into your website may be forgone, and you may begin to see your online presence crumble.

Having a Domain Name does not Equal Trademark Protection!

     Don’t make the common mistake of registering a domain name and forgoing trademark protection, or even feeling that a trademark is no longer needed. We have heard from countless customers who were under the impression that, upon registering their domain name, were then able to use that domain name outright.

     We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but this assumption is simply not true. Domain name registration does not equal trademark registration nor does it mean trademark protection.  In other words, registering a domain name means you have purchased limited rights to operate under that domain name. Merely owning or registering this domain name does not equate to the full rights of its usage. For example, these “rights” do not supersede federal trademark laws, which in reality means they could be quite limited or even non-existent.    

Trademark Registration is the Key to Domain Name Protection

     This is why you may want to consider acquiring a federally registered trademark for your domain or company name. Doing so will ensure the exclusive right to use your domain or company name in relation to the goods and services offered and advertised on your website.

     But be aware: Problems could arise if you purchase your domain name merely with the intention of using it at some point in the future. This situation puts you at risk of being ineligible for any form of common law trademark rights under that domain name.

     Let’s look at an example: A competitor comes along and uses your exact domain or company name (or even something that is very similar) within the same class of goods or services.  This competitor then goes on to file for federal trademark protection. If your competitor is granted this trademark, they carry the legal rights to use and protect that name, which means your own domain name (which you haven’t trademarked) could be taken from you!

In this instance, your lack of trademark registration, along with the missing common law usage that only comes with immediate implementation, has resulted in your business being forced to rebrand and reregister a new domain name, for fear that you are now infringing on your competitor’s trademark rights.

Infringement?! That’s correct. Your domain name, even one that you’ve registered, could potentially be infringing on someone else’s trademark. Also, be aware that intentionally misspelled or closely-related names to trademarked names (like instead of may also be considered trademark infringements. This means that, if your proposed domain name has the potential to confuse clients or customers with a similar company, this could still qualify as infringement.

     The chances are that you had no intention of infringing someone else’s business or using their name trademark in commerce. Moreover, you may have been completely unaware of your competitor’s presence in the same area of goods or services! These “accidental” infringements, however, are much more common than you may think , which often lead toward an unnecessary and preventable trademark infringement suit.

The Importance of a SuperSearch™ & How Witmart Can Trademark Your Domain Name

     How can you avoid such pitfalls? The answer is simple: Choose a domain name that does not conflict with a competitor’s trademark(s). But how are you supposed to know whether your domain name conflicts with what has already been registered? Through conducting a trademark search!

     A trademark search is the first step to take before diving into the trademarking process, a process that can often be long and frustrating. What a trademark search accomplishes is the discovery of prior registrations and/or filings that are similar to your own proposed trademark or domain name.


     Specifically, this search will help you to discover whether similar trademark or domain names are being used on related products and services, and whether any potential conflicts may arise with your own registration. It can even offer details about the kind of classes under which you might register your trademark or domain name. In effect, this search helps you to fully evaluate the strength of your application’s acceptance before you begin the official process of filing your domain name.


     Witmart’s thorough approach to trademarking registration ensures you have the highest level of protection and the greatest likelihood of approval when it comes time to file. Part of this process means taking the guesswork out of registration and conducting a free comprehensive double-tiered trademark search on your behalf.  This SuperSearch™ goes beyond any surface-level inquiries regarding your proposed trademark. Witmart’s SuperSearch extensively investigates:


·         All global trademark databases

·         Your freedom and ability to operate in various trademark classes

·         Any potential risks associated with your proposed trademark

·         The potential infringement of other trademarks


     Based on the results of our comprehensive search, our trademark consultants will then recommend the best trademark or domain name solution tailored to your business’ needs.

Don’t make the protection of your online business any more of a headache than it needs to be. If you have any questions about domain name registration, or simply questions about what it means to file for a trademark, Witmart’s experts in the field are happy to speak with you in search of the best steps for you and your business.

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