Why are domain names important?
Domain names are virtual real estate. More over domain names can become valuable assets that often help to drive business and brand identities.
A top level domain (TLD) represents the .com, .net or .info after the domain name. Everyone is familiar with .com’s. However not everyone is familiar with all of the new generic top level domains (new gTLDs) hitting the market. New gTLDs include .xyz, .realtor, .guru and .lawyer to name a few.
The .com continues to be the dominant domain and will for the considerable future remain the standard. .Com’s are similar to waterfront property in South Florida. The demand for .com’s is extremely high and the supply for good .com’s is limited. So what makes a good .com? Or – what makes a good domain name in general?
Apple – Disney – Realtor
By default – if you were to look up the above three brands you would likely type the brand along with .com. A good domain name very simply must match the brand it identifies (or be very close to it).
That said – single word .com’s are not easy to come by. You can still buy them at auction or buy them by contacting the registered owners. However the price for single word .com’s is going to be a premium above what it would cost to register a new .com from ZooBits.com ($9.99) or another registrar. To give you an idea – single word .com’s might be worth thousands or even millions of dollars. See for yourself by visiting the year to date charts at DNJournal.com.
Brand Identity and Trademarks
There are likely millions of registered domains that directly infringe on registered trademarks.
Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark (or a substantially similar mark) on competing or related goods and services. The success of a lawsuit to stop the infringement rests on whether the defendant’s use causes a likelihood of confusion in the average consumer.
A common example of an infringement deals with the term “realtor.” Realtor is a registered trademark owned by the National Association of Realtors, Inc. To use the mark “realtor” in a domain (such as ChicagoRealtor.com) – the owner would need to be affiliated with a local or state association of realtors (and have permission to use the mark). I have seen countless examples of domain name investors buying domains that include the word “realtor.” The registration and any use of such a domain is arguably a trademark infringement (any possible defenses aside such as that the mark has become generic because of common usage).
Has someone misappropriated your trademark by registering a domain name that is the same as, or substantially similar to, your business name or brand?
Do you need to register a domain but don’t know how?
Do you want to buy an existing domain name or website for your business?
Or do you have a general question about how domain names might impact your intellectual property portfolio?
If you answered yes to any of the above feel free to drop me a line and we can discuss.