Domain name registration and copyright infringement
A very important question arises in the early stages of development of a web site – what would be the most appropriate domain name? Domain names are representative of the address for a web site, and there is a rising trend of incidents of disputes over domain name registration with increased usage of Internet.
There are numerous factors that have led to a crisis of domain registration disputes and this, in turn, has led to a rapid increase in the reported cases of infringement of domain names. Several companies have taken legal action against other companies or individuals over alleged copyright violation on the domain names.
There are some basics that you should understand before choosing a domain name registration:
1. Use of two similar trademarks should not confuse customers about the products or services.
2. If there is a legal conflict over use of similar trademarks, the first user is likely to win the case.
3. The later user would to give up his claim if he cannot proves his point and may have to pay the first owner damages.
You should apply these principles to your domain registration selection process:
1. The best method to avoid conflict of trademarks is to search the trademark database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office at www.uspto.gov. It provides you with all registered and pending trademarks. Try to search for your proposed trademark as well as other similar names and variant spellings. 2. You must be able to justify your reason for using the name. Your domain registration should principally consist of a name you are using as a trade name, trademark or corporate name.
3. It is better to select more than one name since you are not sure about the availability of the required domain name.
If on searching for the desired domain name, you find that the name has already been registered but there is no content being displayed at the domain, try to find out the details of the owner of the domain registration.
It is possible that he/she may be genuine and have yet not published any content.
But it is equally possible that the owner does not plan to develop a web site and is willing to give you the domain at the original price. You must confirm that the seller has ownership rights for that particular domain name registration.
The regulations governing copyright issues for domain names are governed by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
It is very likely that you would lose right of your domain name registration if you have intentionally chosen a name similar to another domain name so as to confuse potential visitors to the site. For example, if your site deals in consumer electronics goods made by a Samsung competitor, do not choose the name « samsungbusiness.com » since a court is most likely to pass a verdict that you selected this name to divert attention of Samsung customers.
There could be others reasons of losing a domain registration:
1. You have never carried out any business under that name 2. There is no person in your company similar to that name 3. You are planning to sell that domain name to your competitor for financial gain.
If your domain name is same as your name then you may be allowed to continue to use it, despite of the fact that it is similar to someone else’s domain name. But the usage of such a name is governed by certain condition set by court. For example, Mr. Suki Nokia, who runs a cosmetics business, may be allowed to use the domain name « nokia.kr » but he would barred from using his site to demonstrate any electronics-related information or advertising.
A very useful tip to buy all three of the top level domains – ..com, .net and .org. You should buy all possible misspellings of your domain name before anybody else takes advantage of this fact.
If on searching, you find similar names, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Will the products/services on your site compete with the products/services on similar domain names?
2. Will your distribution channels for products be same for products being sold under the similar domain names?
3. Will your site distract business away from the site with the similar name?
4. Is the other name quite famous?
If you get negative answers to all these questions, you can feel confident to go ahead with your domain name registration without any worry of a legal hassle.