As your Internet business grows, the value of your domain name
increases. The issue of a domain name trademark should move to
the top of your list. You need to guard against unscrupulous
competitors that may try to incorporate your domain name in
their meta tags to obtain search engine rankings under your
name. If you have a domain name trademark, you can go after
these individuals and compel the search engines to remove
What Is A Trademark?
A trademark is a distinctive item that is used to identify a
logo, product, device, package or service. The trademark
identifies the item as being provided by a particular firm. To
protect these items you can obtain a mark from the patent and
trademark office that prohibits others from trying to gain
economic advantage from your mark.
The patent and trademark office views domain names in a unique
way. The office views the "http://www" element as a part of
the file transfer process, not your domain name. The ".com",
".net", etc., designations are considered top-level domain
identifiers and are also disregarded for the purpose of a
domain name trademark. For example, our domain name is
http://www.sandiegobusinesslawfirm.com. If we submitted the
domain name for registration, only the
"sandiegobusinesslawfirm" portion would be considered for a
Locators Cannot Be Registered
A domain name is a locator for file pages. When you type in
your domain name, a server locates and displays files. If a
domain is used solely for this purpose, it will not be granted
a mark. Instead, the domain name must be incorporated into the
site. For instance, Amazon is recognized as an online
bookstore and the site actually has the word "Amazon" on every
page. Since "Amazon.com" is more than a locator, Amazon can
apply for and receive a trademark. If Amazon used the domain
name, bookstore.com, the company would be able to register
"Amazon", but not "bookstore."
Generic and Descriptive Terms
Domain names that are generic or descriptive in nature cannot
be registered because they fail to designate a distinctive
product or service. For example, "sandiegobusinesslawfirm" is
comprised of generic terms and describes who and where we are,
to wit, a San Diego business law firm. This domain name cannot
be trademarked. The same result would occur with bank.com,
book.com, advice.com, etc.
You may be thinking, "What about 'Coke?' "Coke" is a
trademarked term because it is a distinctive term for a soft
drink product. It just so happens that a brilliant marketing
plan has convinced most people to refer to soft drinks as
"cokes", even if they actually prefer another brand!
Trademarks are an important factor in protecting your Internet
business. Armed with a trademark, you can keep competitors
from pulling traffic off the search engines when people search
for your site.
Richard Chapo is with http://www.sandiegobusinesslawfirm.com -
a law firm providing legal advice to California businesses.
This article is for general education purposes and does not
address every facet of the subject matter. Nothing in this
article creates an attorney-client relationship.