Don’t Let Your Brand Get Blocked: Avoiding Domain Name Disputes in the District

Many people use domain names and trademarks interchangeably, but they are not the same. Domain names and trademark law, represent two of the most complicated concepts within intellectual property matters. In this article, you will learn more about domain names and trademark law, and why they matter to your case.

Short Summary

  • Domain Names vs. Trademarks: Trademarks protect symbols tied to goods or services, while domain names are internet identifiers directing users to website content.
  • The convergence of domain names and trademark law is vital for brands, ensuring protection and avoiding disputes.
  • Trademark protection links symbols to business, creating a consumer connection between a product or service and its provider.
  • Function of Domain Names: Domain names act as internet identifiers, connecting browsers to website data locations, emphasizing the link between characters and content owners.
  • Costs to Trademark: Trademarking a domain name cost varies based on factors like filing option, goods or services classes, and filing basis, including application and maintenance fees.
  • Eligibility for Trademark Protection: Not all domain names qualify for trademark protection; eligibility requires uniqueness, association with online transactions, and being the first to use it with products or services.
  • Trademark Exploration Before Registration: Before registering a domain name as a trademark, conducting a trademark exploration through platforms like InterNIC and ICANN is essential to verify availability.
  • Blocking Domain Names by Trademark Holders: Trademark holders can block domain names violating federally registered trademarks or damaging renowned trademarks, allowing legal restrictions in specific situations.

What is a Domain Name?

In contrast, a domain name functions as a sequence of characters designed for internet identification. Upon entering a domain name into a web browser, protocols and methods within the Domain Name System (DNS) guide the browser to the server’s location hosting the relevant website data. Therefore, a domain name establishes a link for online users between a particular character sequence and the whereabouts of the website owner’s content files.

What is a Trademark?

Trademark protections come into play when a symbol is “utilized in trade” – when a name, emblem, or phrase is employed alongside the goods or services of a business in a manner that forms a link in consumers’ perceptions between the symbol and the enterprise. Thus, a trademark establishes a relationship in consumers’ minds between a specific product or service and the entity delivering it.

How much does it cost to trademark a domain name?

The cost to trademark a domain name depends on several factors, such as the filing option, the number of classes of goods or services, and the filing basis. Here is a summary of the possible fees involved:

  • Initial Application Fee: $250 or $350 per class of goods or services, based on the chosen filing option. This fee is payable through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).
  • Statement of Use or Extension Fee: If not in current use but with a bona fide intention to do so, an additional fee of $100 per class is required when filing a statement of use or requesting an extension.
  • Trade Name Registration Fee: To register a domain name as a trade name, a fee of $55 per trade name is applicable, payable through the Online Trademark Registration System.
  • Maintenance Fees (USPTO): Periodic fees ranging from $200 to $525 per class are necessary for declarations of use, excusable nonuse, and renewal applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Trade Name Renewal Fee: A renewal fee of $55 per trade name every two years is required to maintain trade name registration. Additional fees may apply for amendments or cancellations.

When does a domain name qualify as a trademark?

A domain name qualifies as a trademark when it meets specific prerequisites. Trademarks, representing designations, emblems, or insignias, distinguish products or services. Not all domain names qualify; generic or commonplace names usually do not meet trademark standards. For a domain name to qualify:

  1. Uniqueness: It stands out or becomes unique in public association with the online enterprise.
  2. Pioneer Usage: The owner was the first to use it in conjunction with product or service transactions.

When trademark regulations protect a domain name, the owner has the authority to prevent others from using similar or incorrectly spelled names.

How do I check the availability of a domain name?

Given that each domain name must be distinct, it’s reserved for a single user. Before registering a domain name as a trademark, it’s essential to execute a trademark exploration. This exploration ensures that your chosen domain name is free before advancing to the trademark registration phase.

You can verify a domain name’s availability by exploring the platforms of an ICANN-endorsed digital domain registrar. Both InterNIC and ICANN provide catalogs of endorsed registrars.

Should a domain name be taken, identifying its proprietor is straightforward. A query on platforms like will yield details about the owner. Occasionally, pinpointing the owner becomes challenging if the individual has provided deceptive details during registration.

How should issues be resolved between domain names and trademark law?

If a business possesses a trademark that’s federally registered, it doesn’t automatically prevent another entity from acquiring the corresponding domain name. However, there are specific situations where a trademark holder can block the utilization of a domain name.

  • It violates a federally registered trademark: Resembling a name might lead to potential infringement. If another entity employs a domain name akin to a trademark while offering comparable products or services, the trademark holder could legally restrict its usage. The rationale is that such likeness between the trademark and domain name could mislead consumers.
  • It weakens a renowned trademark: Should the business-oriented usage of a domain name diminish or stain the esteemed trademark’s image, its usage could be halted according to trademark regulations.

Get The Right Guidance With Domain Names and Trademark Law Now!

In navigating the complexities of domain names and trademark law, it is crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced intellectual property attorney. An intellectual property lawyer can help you understand the complex and evolving laws and practices of intellectual property, which cover various rights such as trademarks, copyrights, and patents.

War IP Law offers assistance to our clients by working tirelessly. We deeply understand that your career, dignity, and finances are at stake. With this in mind, we are dedicated to upholding your best interests at all times. Let’s work together today!