How to avoid copyright infringment in your domain name
One of the most important aspects of choosing a domain name is that it should be non-infringing. This is not an easy task since most unique names have already been registered. The number of useful domain names from the marketing point of view have become extremely limited. Several companies now register variations of their trademark names as a preventive measure against infringement. For example, check www.coke.com, www.coca-cola.com, and www.coca-cola.com, or try www.3m.com and www.mmm.com.
All these factors have led to a crisis of domain names and given rise to increasing cases of infringement of domain names. A number of companies have taken legal action against other companies or individuals over alleged copyright violation on the domain names.
There are some fundamental guidelines and cross-checks for selection of a domain name.
You must carefully select some names that are relevant to your business model. You must be able to justify your reason for using the name. Your domain name should principally consist of a name you are using as a trade name, trademark or corporate name.
It is better to select more than one name since you are not sure about the availability of the required domain name.
Now, search the website of one of the prominent domain name registrars to check if the required name is available. If the name has already been registered by someone else, the search result will provide you with optional names that are similar to your requirements. For example, for the name "ford", the search result may give you similar names like "aboutford.com" and "fordbusiness.com".
If the domain name that you are looking has already been registered but there is no content being displayed at the domain, try to find out the details of the owner of the domain. It is possible that he/she may be genuine and have yet not published any content.
It is also possible that the owner does not plan to create a web site and is willing to give you the domain at the original price. You must confirm that the seller has ownership rights for that particular domain name.
Choosing a domain name that is same as or quite similar to another well-known trademark, may lead to legal action. The regulations governing these issues are dealt by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
It is very likely that you would lose right of your domain name if you have intentionally chosen a name similar to another domain name so as to confuse potential visitors to the site. For example, if your site deals in consumer electronics goods made by a Samsung competitor, do not choose the name "samsungbusiness.com" since a court is most likely to pass a verdict that you selected this name to divert attention of Samsung customers.
There could be others reasons of losing a domain name. It may be found that you have never carried out any business under that name or there is no person in your company similar to that name. Another reason could be that you intend to sell that domain name to your competitor for financial gain.
If your domain name is same as your name then you may be allowed to continue to use it, inspite of the fact that it is similar to someone else's domain name. But the usage of such a name is governed by certain conditions set by court. For example, Mr. Suki Nokia, who runs a cosmetics business, may be allowed to use the domain name "nokia.kr" but he would be barred from using his site to demonstrate any electronics-related information or advertising.
It is also possible for you to use a domain name that is similar to another's trademark if your objective is not to criticize the other person's business.
In the non-cyberworid, two companies may have the same name if they do not conduct a similar business or do not have similar product lines. Roxy Electrical and Roxy Laundry can coexist comfortably. However, in the web world, both Roxies cannot own the "roxy.com" domain name. The laundry Roxy could register under "roxy.laundry" and the electrician under "roxy.electrical."
A very useful tip is to buy all three of the top level domains - .com, .co.uk and .net. You should also buy all possible misspellings of your domain name before anybody else takes advantage of this fact.
You have put a lot of money and energy into building your business and if you are forced to give up the domain name, your business is likely to suffer due to it. So, you need to put your best efforts in choosing a domain name that is both distinctive and non-infringing.
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