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How to Avoid Trademark Infringement When Choosing a Domain Name

16th February, 2022

Posted by ESQwire

When you are choosing a domain name for your business, it is important to select a domain name that can be spelled easily and can be remembered, and that properly identifies your business and the goods or services you are offering. Yet choosing an appropriate domain name involves much more planning than simply thinking in terms of marketing and what is easiest or best to drive customers to your website. When you are choosing a domain name, it is also critical to avoid trademark infringement. An experienced domain attorney at our firm can work with you on the process of choosing a domain name and ensuring that you have not engaged in trademark infringement. In the meantime, the following are some key tips for avoiding trademark infringement when you are selecting a domain name.

Search Existing Trademarks

You should begin the process of choosing a domain name by considering your business needs and other related marketing factors. Then, once you think you have selected a domain name, you should begin searching existing trademarks to identify any potential conflicts. The best place to start is usually the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark database. There you can find information about trademarks that have been registered, as well as trademarks that have a pending registration. In addition to the USPTO, you should run searches on the internet and should work with the best domain broker to identify any other conflicts.

You will want to search for the precise domain name you have used, but you will also want to run searches for related names, including synonyms and any possible alternate spellings. For example, if you run a rare book business and you have selected a domain name that includes “rare books” in the name, you will want to look for synonyms such as “first editions” or “early editions.” Then, when it comes to alternate spellings, consider words that can have more than one spelling. For example, a pastry shop selling doughnuts will want to search for “doughnut” and “donut.” If you cannot locate any conflicts, you may be able to use the domain name without the risk of trademark infringement. However, many domain names will have some similarity or likeness to existing trademarks, and it is important to understand what you should do next.

Consider Conflicts with Similar Domain Names

If your proposed domain name does reveal potential conflicts through a USPTO search or a general internet search, it will be critical to work with a domain name lawyer who can help you to determine whether the possible conflict could result in a trademark infringement claim or a cybersquatting case.

How can you know if a possible conflict will create an actual legal issue? First, you should consider whether your domain name is for a website that will provide similar services or goods to those being offered on a website with a similar name and registered trademark. If not, you may still be able to use the domain name without problems. If the goods or services are similar, you will need to consider additional questions, such as the markets for the goods or services, and whether your website is likely to compete with the existing business’s site. You should also consider whether customers would be confused by the similarity, and just how well known the existing website is to the public.  

Contact a Domain Name Lawyer for Assistance

If you are in the process of choosing a domain name and want to ensure that you avoid any risks of trademark infringement or other legal issues concerning cybersquatting, it is important to speak with a domain name attorney as soon as possible. Contact ESQWire to learn more about the domain name services we provide.

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