Trademarking your domain name is a crucial step in building your online presence. A domain name allows you and your website to be identified by your clients, which ensures that your domain name is your online identity.
Why should you want to trademark your domain name?
The trademark will distinguish and protect your products or services from competitors. A trademark on your domain name allows you to challenge any competing company that uses a similar name and provides similar goods or services with the right to name.
The ability to challenge and prevent anyone from stealing your identity and/or business and traffic is the main reason why you should want to trademark your domain name.
In addition to the protection offered to your online business by a trademark, there are some other reasons for seeking a trademark. From customer peace of mind to monetary benefits, your online business could benefit from trademarking your domain name.
Online companies must trademark their domain name
If your company operates solely in the online space, your domain name is the entire identity of your business. This online-only sense puts huge importance on maintaining your brand, as this is the only way your customers can learn and communicate with you.
Once you own your trademark, filing a UDRP with an authorized dispute resolution service allows for lower cost, quicker resolution, and possible cancelation or transfer of the domain to a different owner.
Company’s online identity protection
Having a domain name that is a perfect match for your company name increases the risk of potential for damage to your name and image. While no one can register the same name as your domain, they are likely to create an “alternative” to your name.
Usually, these forms of misspellings and alternate domain names serve as phishing sites to steal information from your customers. The trademark on your name means that you have full rights to revoke their claim to these alternatives if any of these alternatives occur.
Avoid the need to buy a bunch of alternate domain names
A trademark keeps you from buying other extensions of your domain along the same lines of identity theft protection mentioned above. Another way to prevent phishing sites from using their alternate domain spellings is to sign such names for yourself.
One of the best examples is when Coca-Cola launched its major advertising campaign in 2013, they purchased 61 variants of the spelling of the “ahh”.COM domain name (including one domain with 61 h’s).
Assuming that you don’t have the time or the resources to purchase every possible spelling of your domain, a trademark ensures that you can prevent others from stealing your identity.
Since a domain can be registered by anyone with a computer and an internet connection, cyber-squatters are a true threat. Cyber-squatters are individuals who register one or multiple domain names that are either identical or deceptively similar to a company name and then try to sell these domains at an inflated price.
Note that trademarking your domain also demonstrates your validity as a goods or services provider. If your customers ever doubt the reputability of your site, then having a trademark is a nice way to give them peace of mind.
What are the requirements for a domain name to be eligible to trademark
In some specific cases, you can register a domain name as a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Your domain name must meet these basic following requirements to register your domain name as a trademark:
- Your domain is distinct, or your customers associate your name with your internet business, and
- You, the owner of the domain, are the first to use this name in association with the sale of goods and/or services.
Understandably not every domain name can apply for a trademark, but it is well worth checking, once you have decided how to set up your online presence.
It does not matter if you are just beginning your online business, trying to expand your brick-and-mortar business to the internet, or just haven’t gotten around to labeling your product yet, a brand is an essential part of your business.
Besides warding off phishing websites that aim to tarnish your credibility you will be adding another asset to your company.
On the last note, we would recommend consulting a trademark or intellectual property attorney will help you figure out the best course of action and aid you in pursuing your trademark.