There’s so much to learn about trademarks and how they play an important role in our business’ marketing efforts. But one of the first things you should do for your business before buying your domain, is to make sure your company’s ideal domain is not already trademarked for similar goods and services. If another business is selling goods and services with a similar trademark, you can be forced to abandon that domain, even after you’ve invested a considerable amount of time and resources into it. If you’re like 99.99% of small business owners, which is strapped for cash, this would seriously suck. The general rule is that if your domain name might confuse customers or dilute a famous trademark (even if it’s unrelated to your type of business) you can be sued by the trademark owner.
On the flip side, once you’ve established your trademark, others can’t take a domain name based on your trademark and then try and sell it to you. The Lanham Act is a law that prevents this type of cybersquatting. If this happens you have a couple of choices: you can fight it and try to force them to give up the domain, or you can buy it from them. A lot of businesses choose to buy it back, which makes sense because legal actions can get pricey.
Also keep in mind that simply registering a domain name does not automatically grant trademark rights. You have to actually be using that domain in conjunction with selling your goods and services, and customers associate that domain with your business. To qualify as a trademark the domain also generally has to be distinct and you must be the first to use it for your type of business, which are requirements of any trademark.
Keep these tips in mind as you go forth and register your domain names. Feel free to post questions and comments!
Need help with your trademark? Shoot us an email at email@example.com.