A domain name is a unique name associated with a specific IP address. When typed in a browser’s address bar, it will lead to a particular website. Meanwhile, a trademark is a name, logo, symbol, or other elements used to distinguish and identify a business, product, or service from other competitors.
With many businesses popping up everyday and competition becoming more challenging, it would make sense to trademark your domain name to prevent mischievous individuals from leveraging your brand name for their own business.
Besides that, trademarking your domain name brings more benefits to your business. This article will explain further what a trademark domain name is, why you need it, and the steps you need to take to do so.
Let’s get started.
What Is a Trademark Domain Name?
A trademark domain name essentially means a domain name that’s used not just for your website but rather for everything else in your business, such as products or services. In other words, the domain name becomes the brand and trademark of your business.
Therefore, just reserving the domain name isn’t enough. You need to purchase and trademark it.
Why Register Your Trademark?
You don’t necessarily need to register for a trademark to prevent other businesses from using your brand name in their website address. This is because the name will automatically become unavailable once you purchase it.
But registering for a trademark brings plenty more benefits to your business. For one, it makes it easier for you to enforce your rights when someone uses your brand for their business. You’ll win the dispute because you own the trademark.
Anyone who tries to use your domain name after the trademark registration will be presumed to know about it because it’s publicly listed on the local government’s register of trademarks.
So when you do file a lawsuit against someone who’s bearing your trademark, you’ll easily convince the judge that they are purposely infringing on your brand.
How to Trademark a Domain Name
The following guidelines will be based on how to trademark in the U.S. However, the steps are similar if you’re looking to trademark in other countries.
1. Conduct a Trademark Search
It’s a good practice to conduct a trademark search to see whether any trademarks conflict with the name you want to register. To do this, simply head to your local governmental body like the U.S Patent and Trademark Office Website. If you don’t know how to navigate it, hire a professional to do it for you.
This is vital because domain registrars aren’t obligated to check whether the name you want breaches any existing trademark.
So if you do get the result that your domain name is available for purchase, it doesn’t say anything about whether it conflicts with someone else’s trademark. And should the owner of the trademark decide to take legal actions, you will lose your website’s domain name.
Hence conducting a trademark search before you register your domain name helps prevent any potential legal issues.
2. Fill Out the Application
In the U.S itself, there are three ways to apply for a trademark, which are:
- For applicants who already used their website’s domain name to conduct business.
- For those who haven’t used the trademark yet but want to do so.
- For applicants who live outside of the United States and have registered their trademark elsewhere.
More information on the various ways of applying for a trademark can be found at your local government’s trademark office website.
Besides the application, you must also provide an illustration or drawing of your trademark (logo) and pay the necessary fees. Afterward, you must also provide three products or services that you’re going to sell. Only then will the application be processed.
The approval process can take up to four months, so it’s best to start applying for a trademark early in your business stage.
3. Protect Your Trademark
Once you get the trademark rights for your domain name, you should let the public know about it to prevent anyone from using it without your permission. Use ™ or SM (service mark) symbols to signal them.
In the U.S, your trademark registration lasts for ten years with a ten-year renewal term. Somewhere between the fifth and sixth year after the registration, you must file a written statement that is sworn to be true – also known as an affidavit – to continue using the trademark. Failure to do so will result in the cancellation of your trademark registration.
Trademark registration for your domain name brings plenty of benefits to your business. You can easily win any trademark infringement cases because you legitimately own the trademark to the domain name. It also prevents individuals from taking advantage of your business name’s SEO for their own.
To register your domain name as a trademark, there are three steps you need to take. Remember that the steps are similar to other countries besides the U.S. Let’s recap:
- Conduct a Trademark Search
- Fill Out the Application
- Protect Your Trademark
Now that you know the necessary steps, all you need to do is immediately register the trademark for your domain name.