Choosing a domain name for your business can be tricky and complicated. It needs to be easy to pronounce, memorable, clever, short and needs to be associated with your business. If you manage to find one that fits all of these criteria, then you have the perfect domain name at hand.
Once you have chosen a name, you can buy domain names for your website. There are a lot of things you will have to take a note of from the legal perspective. You need to ensure that the name you have chosen will not infringe on an existing trademark. You will have to employ your attorney to extensively search and ensure that no one has the same domain name or even a similar one to prevent any issues in the future. If you go ahead with one that already exists, you are at the risk of incurring heavy losses.
This is one of the main reasons you need to ensure that your domain name does not Infringe on 3rd party intellectual property rights.
How To Choose A Domain Name That Does Not Infringe
You need to understand the basics of how trademark works in order to pick the right domain name, using Shopify. Here is everything you need to know:
- A trademark can be anything like a word, symbol, phrase, or a design that can distinguish one brand from another. A service mark is a concept similar to a trademark except that it deals with service as opposed to a trademark, which refers to a product.
- There can be a legal conflict over trademark since it can cause confusion over services and products offered by different companies. The source itself may be difficult to find if there is confusion in the trademark and in some cases you may even have to pay for damages.
- The simple fact is that the trademark belongs to whoever uses it first. Anyone who uses it after and creates a confusion will be forced to forfeit the trademark.
So it is very important to stay cautious when you buy domain names. You need to make sure that you don’t infringe on someone else’s trademark or use any word, design, or phrase that might confuse a customer.
Rules To Understand If There Is A Legal Conflict
Trademarks identify a product or source and are protected under state and federal laws.
- They are mostly descriptive and aim at creating a unique identity for use in advertisements. This is also is protected under the state and federal law.
- The trademark that came about first will own the trademark according to the law.
- The second user of the same trademark will have to immediately stop using the trademark.
This is a scenario that arises when a customer can get confused between two brands because of the same or similar trademark. Potential customers can be misleading and diverted to the wrong brand which can put one or both parties at a massive disadvantage.
A trademark can be protected better if you work at making it unique. There are many ways in which you can go about this. You can go for made up or suggestive trademarks or even a random combination of words to link it with your line of business. Some of the most popular sites today are random misspelled words like Flickr, Yahoo, and Google.
You need to ensure that you register your trademark with USPTO(United States patent and trademark office). It will be useful to mark your claim over the trademark if any legal dispute arises over trademark infringement.
Tips to Avoid Trademark Infringement
There are a few steps that you can take to ensure you won’t land up in a legal dispute over the domain name. Once you have decided on a domain name, you need to search for it on the USPTO database of registered trademarks. You will also have to search for words that sound similar and other misspelled versions. Synonyms and acronyms must not be left out. If you do not find anything in the database, you can next search for it on the internet by implementing the same variations in your search.
If you do not find a name that can create a conflict, then you need to ask yourself a few things before you make a decision.
- Do you offer similar services or products?
- Can a customer search for one and find the other?
- Do you conduct your business through the same channels?
- Is the other company a popular brand?
If you feel like the answers to the above questions will not put you in a legal bind, it is safe to proceed with the domain name. If not, you will have to widen your search and buy domain names that can help you avoid trademark infringement and avoid legal hassles.