Business owners often want to know whether they can trademark a domain name.
The short answer is “Yes,” and it might be a good idea if the domain name is integral to your business.
You may have taken steps to register your company name and your domain name. But neither a registered company name, nor a registered domain name prevents your competitors from using similar names. Only a trademark registration gives you the exclusive right to use your brand name or in this case, your domain name, for the products and services you offer.
Why should you trademark your domain name?
A domain name is simply an address on the internet where customers can find your website.
For most ecommerce businesses, their domain name is the actual place where they conduct business. Because it’s easy to come up with similar-looking domain names, it’s easy for copycats, counterfeiters and cyber pirates to imitate an established business’s domain name and cause all sorts of confusion.
To be able to use a domain name, you simply pay to register the name with a domain name registrar.
To get legal protection so that only you can use your domain name as a brand for the products and services you offer, you must also apply for a registered trademark.
How to trademark a domain name
To be registrable as a trademark, a domain name brand must meet the same criteria as any other word trademark: it must be original – unlike any other trademark registered for the same products or services.
Ideally, it should also be distinctive so that consumers can recognise your brand from others in the marketplace. Our article How to Trademark a Name explains the criteria to create a strong trademark that is registrable.
It can sometimes be a challenge to register “generic.com” words as trademarks: you generally need to show that you have built up a significant reputation in a generic name before it can be registered. For example, BOOKING.COM was only registered in the US after a 12-year legal battle in which the company finally convinced the US Supreme Court that consumers recognise this domain name as their distinctive brand.
However, in the UK, a number of generic names like STAY.COM for accommodation reservation services, SLEEP.COM for information about sleep and bedding and VOICES.COM for voice-over services have been registered as word trademarks.
In general, trademarking your domain name can help protect the identity, reputation and profitability of your business. It’s likely to be particularly important if you’re an ecommerce business or have a significant internet presence. Brandjacking is a growing global problem and so it’s a good idea to trademark your brand name and your domain name in all the countries where you trade before you become the next victim of this dubious practice.
Trademark your domain name with us
We believe all brand owners should own their brands – brand names, domain names, business names, logos or slogans and so we’re committed to helping you successfully register your UK trademarks online.
We know that the trademark registration process can be complicated but Trademark Planet uses smart technology to simplify the process into 3 easy steps.