Creating a trademark for your brand is one of the first steps you take when building a business, but what about your domain name? To make your brand more recognizable and distinctive with the products or services that you offer, you can protect it and avoid confusing customers. Today, you can do the same with your URL address, as important as the name of your company. Thankfully, you can now protect your digital property and prevent other businesses from registering with your same domain.
Why should you get a trademark for your domain?
In fact, you don’t necessarily need to have a registered trademark to prevent a competitor from using your brand name in its domain name. Then why should you care about obtaining a trademark? First of all, registering a trademark will make it simpler for you to take control over your rights as an owner – you will be automatically associated with the brand. As a result, if anyone tries to take over it after your registration, they will be aware of your own because it will be on the local/national register of trademarks. Then, if there is a dispute between you and a competitor and you decide to go to court to solve it, the judge will easily take your side. You will be able to prove that violation was on purpose so you can receive the expenses of the damage at the end.
Do all domain names qualify for this protection?
A trademark can be a symbol, logo, name, or any other tool that identifies and distinguishes you, your products, or services from your concurrents. However, not all domain names will be able to obtain a trademark. Usually, the most popular and generic names don’t meet the criteria. It has to be distinctive and related to your brand and your online business. Also, you have to find an authentic and original domain name, if you want to use it for selling goods or services. When you get the trademark, you will have the power to forbid others to use a similar or misspelled variant of your name.
How to register a trademark in the US and internationally?
First, you will have to check if the name is available or taken by someone else. You can easily do that on the page of ICANN, the online registrar of domain names. In case your dream name is taken, you can visit www.whois.net and find the contact of the owner. Sometimes, they may be open to discussing selling the domain to you.
In the US, you can register a trademark for your domain on the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Go on their website and make sure no one else uses the chosen name. File the application form and then pay the registration fee. But have in mind that the U.S. patent is valid only on the territory of the United States. It won’t have any effect in foreign countries, so you might consider applying for more than this. Of course, you can’t register in every country on Earth, but you can go for a trademark that protects your brand internationally.
One of the best choices you can make is the Madrid System. It’s part of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which is based in Geneva, Switzerland. If you register at the Madrid Protocol, your brand will get protection in approximately 124 countries. You will be able to expand and renew your global trademark in return for a simple fee. The costs will vary depending on the goods and services you want to cover. For more information, click here.
If you are a resident of the European Union and you are a business owner, you can address the EU Intellectual Property Office. Register there, and your trademark will last at least 10 years. There are also infinite options to renew it.