Problems with Domain Names That Infringe Trademarks


Keeping your company’s good name in tact is essential in today’s competitive business environment. Having a visible and user-friendly web presence is essential in today’s interconnected society. Customers will be able to find you online simply by typing in your business’s domain name, which can also serve as a memorable brand identifier.

Though domain names can be a sort of trademark, this practise isn’t without its detractors. Companies may be curious about their rights to copyright protection and monetary compensation in the event of trademark infringement in domain names. This primer can explain what trademarks are, how they relate to domain names, and when a legal action for infringement could be warranted. 

Quick Reference: Brand Names

A trademark, in its most basic definition, is any symbol that may be used by a third party to recognize a particular business instantly. Words, symbols, slogans, and logos all fit under this category. The United States Patent and Trademark Office will register these words or symbols for the registering party (USPTO). The owner gains sole and exclusive commercial litigation use of the symbol.

Is it possible to trademark a domain name?

When we talk about trademarks, we’re referring to works of art that are officially affiliated with their respective owners. To the contrary, a domain name is nothing more than an online address that points to a certain website. Although many businesses may eventually make use of their domain name in advertising and promotional materials, consumers are not drawn in by the domain name in and of itself.

Therefore, a URL cannot be used to apply for a trademark. This also means the owner of the domain name cannot sue third parties who try to profit off of it by using a similar name. But that doesn’t mean businesses have no legal options when faced with domain name hijacking.

Domain Name Squatting and Registration

A domain name can be purchased on a “first come, first served” basis. Because of this, anyone can try to register a domain name. If the domain name in question is available and has not previously been claimed, the interested party may do so. It’s simple to see how this could cause problems for businesses whose domain name also functions as their company name or motto.