What is real
is not external form.



CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI

Why your company needs a registered domain name

10.04.2020


The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to move their operations online; for that, they need a registered domain name. Firms that previously relied on physical premises and in-person sales have quickly realised that getting the right domain name is vital for their survival. They are also learning that their IP (Intellectual Property) – web domain, website design, and published website content –  must be protected.

What is a domain name?

Your internet domain name is nothing more than a string of letters that corresponds to a particular IP address: it’s the digital version of your office address. For your company, that domain name represents your most important capital value. It defines your firm’s online identity, so choose it wisely. If it helps, imagine the domain name written on a sign at the front of your office – if it wouldn’t be right for your office, it’s not the right domain name for your business. Here are some things to consider when picking your domain name:

  1. Does it reflect the nature of your business, products and services?
  2. Is it overly long or complicated?
  3. Could it be confused with any existing domain names?
  4. Does it already exist?
  5. Is it already owned by another entity?

It’s essential to research this final point, as attempting to register a domain name that is already owned may lead to confusion and legal repercussions. Thankfully, it is easy to check whether your preferred domain name (or its derivative) is available: simply access the website below.

https://www.wipo.int/amc/en/trademark/output.html.

Protecting your registered domain name and IP

Whether you represent a start-up or an established firm, it is vital to register both the company name (be it a word mark or a mark containing a logo), and the domain name as a word mark. The importance of this step will become clear.

Domain name registrations must be renewed, much like car or home insurance. If you forget to pay then your domain registration will lapse, and another entity will be able to purchase your domain name.

So what happens if an entity purchases your expired domain name, but you can prove that you had activity on that site? From a legal perspective, there is a UDRP (Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy) procedure for recovering your domain name, but it only applies if the following conditions are met:

  • The domain name is identical OR it causes confusion regarding a trademark over which the applicant has rights.
  • The registrant is deprived of rights regarding the domain name OR the domain name has been registered and is used in “bad faith”.

If you do not meet the conditions, you can attempt to negotiate an agreement with the other party, but there are no guarantees that this will work. This is why it’s so important to trademark your company name and domain name.

The take-home message

Having a suitable registered domain name can exponentially increase the value of your business. But the mere registration of a domain name on the domain registries does not guarantee your intellectual property rights over that domain. Another entity could buy the rights to your domain. To protect your intellectual property rights, consult with an IP specialist.

 

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