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How To Legally Protect Your Domain Name

How To Legally Protect Your Domain Name

November 20, 2017

The first thing you need to do when you have an idea for a new product, service, or business is to find a name for it.

It’s well worth consulting an expert in trademarks to help you choose a name, and to establish whether your proposed name is legally available to use, and most importantly, whether it is distinctive enough to function as a trademark.

Descriptive names are not capable of trademark protection. Think of Tesco’s Clubcard for example. Tesco has been unsuccessful in its bid to register Clubcard as a trademark for its loyalty card scheme because the registry considered Clubcard too descriptive. That means any business is free to use the name Clubcard for its loyalty card program.  

If a name isn’t descriptive, then the next thing is to do some full clearance searches to make sure the name is legally available. At the least do these checks to cover your home market in the UK.

If the name is legally available it means you can protect it and have exclusive rights over it. However, registration alone is not enough because trade mark registrations can be cancelled if someone with better rights over the name objects to your registration.

Once it’s clear the name is legally available, it means you can have a unique online brand. If others are “passing off” your brand by registering your name as a domain, you are in a strong position to recover it from them.  

What if you haven’t taken advice. What if you find you can’t use the name you’ve been using for the past 10 years for your company’s successful service, or brilliant product? Your business could suffer a substantial drop in revenues overnight.

When a business is unlucky enough to be required to rebrand the costs can be significant. You could potentially suffer a substantial drop in revenues, as it is not always feasible to redirect the old domain name to your new domain. That makes it more difficult for your former customers or potential new ones to find you when searching online. .

Trademarks reduce the risk of consumers being confused about the source or origin of goods or services they buy. So, be sure to get good advice before you start using a new name. Here at Azrights we have substantial experience in all things trademark related, so do contact us if you have a trademark issue you would like help with.