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The Relationship Between UK Trademark Registration And Domain Names

04th August 2011
By Robert Fogarty in Business Law
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Trademark registration should not be confused with domain name registration. Registering a domain name does not give you any trademark rights. However, trademark registration, and then purchasing a corresponding domain name may make good business sense. Let's explore further.

What Defines a Trademark and What Protection Does Trademark Registration Offer?

A trademark can be sought for a name, word, device, symbol, or any combination where it is intended to be used commercially to distinguish and identify sellers or manufacturers goods/services. Basically, a trademark is a brand name.

When a trademark registration occurs consumers actually benefit because there is less likelihood of confusion with knock offs, which cheat the consumer. Those who seek trademark registration spend a great deal of money in their efforts to help consumers be able to distinguish their goods/services from others.

For example, at one time aspirin was used in the trademark of Bayer to represent synthesized acetylsalicylic acid. However, today it is used to describe many generic products. When those who own the trademark are not diligent, they can slip away.

Registering a Domain Name

When you register your domain name, it often makes good business sense to incorporate your trademark as a website address there by building, branding for your business and making it easier for people to find you on internet.

It's important to understand having a trademark does not provide automatic rights to a domain name that incorporates your trademark. Someone may already have that domain registered. Whether you have the right to take legal action will depend on:

1. If that person/business is using the website to pass them off as being associated with your goods and services.

2. If you can prove they registered that domain name just so they can sell it back to you. In these instances you must prove the domain name was registered after it was clear that he/she could benefit by selling it to you because you had the trademark.

There are dispute resolution services in place through the UPO. Having a domain name does not mean you have the right to register that domain name as a trademark. It would have to meet all the standard criteria for the registration of a trademark. You must also make sure the domain name isn't infringing on anyone else's trademark.

How to Identify the Owner of a Domain Name

There are some global tools that can help you identify the owner of a domain name. They are:

- Geektools

- uWhois

- SamSpade

Where Can I Learn More About UK Trademark Law

You can learn more about trademark registration and trademark law in the UK by visiting

- The UK Trade Mark Registration

- The Intellectual Property Office UK

Trademark law is complex, as can be trademarks, trademark registration, and domain laws. However, there is a great deal of material available including the Trade Marks Act 1994, the Trade Marks Rules 2000 and 2008, and Statutory Instruments. When in doubt you should always talk to your lawyer. There is no room for error with your trademark registration. After all a mistake could directly affect your business and your revenue.
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