Many cases have been known, especially since the dawn of the Internet, where people have chosen a domain name and are subject to trademark infringement of a domain name. There are many cases (such as the Nissan case) that have made headlines and it is important that you know the trademark characteristics of a domain name and how best to avoid these infringements.
It’s especially hard when you lose a domain name because you didn’t know you were trademark infringing, so learning how to choose a domain name that won’t infringe on someone’s trademark is ideal.
Some basic principles of trademark law
Before we get into how to avoid domain name trademark infringement, there are some basic things you should know about trademark law that can help you choose a domain name.
Names of products and services are subject to trademark law. If someone else is selling a product with that name, it probably shouldn’t be used as a domain name.
Trademarks that are descriptive and distinctive can be protected by law.
Trademark conflicts can arise when the use of either trademark can confuse customers as to the source.
The first commercial user of the trademark is the one who owns it. Violating some of these rules may constitute a domain name trademark infringement.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to how to use the basics of trademark law to know if you can legally use the domain name. With all the different types of businesses online, it can be difficult to know if your domain name would infringe on someone else’s trademark, but as long as you’re not competing directly with the other company, it’s generally okay to use it. as long as the name is not exactly the same.
Prevent domain name trademark infringement
So, how can you avoid trademark infringement of a domain name? The first place to see if someone has registered your domain name as a trademark is to check the trademark database. The database depends on the country you live in. This will give you a good idea of who and what is a trademark that resembles your name.
The next thing to check is a search engine. Search engines are great at finding things a customer would want, despite misspellings and confusion over synonyms. It can also tell you if there are already domains with similar names, that way you can know who and what your direct competition is. If there’s a domain or company that’s trademarked something that you’re trying to compete with, say if you’re trying to sell baby toys and it’s trademarked on baby clothes, then you might want to reconsider your domain name.
Another thing you want to look out for is whether the potential customers could easily accidentally land on your domain instead of the other person’s, either through a misspelling or typo. Usually this only applies to domains that are only a few characters apart, but if so, you should reconsider the domain name.
Finally, it is important to know whether or not the other name is known. If the other website is reasonably well known, they will try to sue you if there is a possibility that you will get into trouble. These are just a few things to keep in mind when dealing with a domain name trademark infringement.