As people get more accustomed to the idea of shopping online, the business world and the online world will continue to tangle with each other. In addition, e-commerce just received an all-time kick due to pandemic restrictions and lockdowns, which drove a rapid increase in a very short period of time.
Of course, as the pandemic scare dulls out, some people will return to their old shopping habits. Still, with more young generations at the helm, the online world will continue to grow, making it the perfect marketing medium for businesses everywhere.
Therefore, if you’re thinking about starting a business, you must make sure to find the best domain name to represent the brand online. This step is crucial for the success of your online endeavor and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. In fact, there are quite a few things to consider when choosing a good domain name.
However, in today’s article, we are going to focus on the legal aspects of a domain name.
- Avoid Trademark Infringement
Trademark infringement can easily happen when you choose a domain even if the domain is available (as in not registered by the trademark holder). If you buy and use a domain name that is already a registered trademark, you risk losing it in a legal battle, if the holder decides to register it or finds your use of the domain is damaging to their image or business.
Therefore, it’s best to make sure that the domain name you want is not already a trademark. For this, check the trademark database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (updated on a weekly basis) and search for both registered and pending applications. Make sure to extend the search to include marks that are close to the variant you want (synonyms or variant spelling). A trademark holder has the right to challenge trademarks that are too similar in use and spelling – while the holder doesn’t always win, you will still have to pay legal fees and get involved in the process.
- Register Your Own Trademark
Now, once you find a suitable domain name, and you’ve checked the USPTO database, you may want to protect your brand by registering it as a trademark. For this, it’s best to work with people specialized in the legal aspects of the matter, like Nominus, to avoid any mistakes or slips along the way.
- You Can Fight Against Cybersquatting
Cybersquatting happens when someone buys the domain names of businesses or associated with trademarks in order to resell them for profit. While this is not a legal term, it’s still possible to free up the domain that was registered in bad faith (for reselling purposes) even if you don’t own the trademark.
For this, you can use the U.S. Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d) or ask for help from ICANN.
A successful online business encompasses a wide array of elements, but the domain name is the one that starts it all. Therefore, you don’t want to start building a brand only to have the domain name reclaimed or copied by another entity. Legal protection is just as crucial in the online world as it is in the business world!