protecting a domain name

Protecting A Domain Name

In today’s economy, it is essential that a company has a website as part of its brand. Even if the website does not necessarily have an e-commerce portion, it is vital for a company to have an internet presence. A majority of consumers look to the internet to research everything – particularly choosing which companies to take their business to. If your company does not have a website that at least effectively explains your business, you could be missing out on market share. One important consideration that smaller companies often tend to overlook is the choosing of and then protecting a domain name for your company’s website.

A domain name is used to identify one or more IP addresses, and is used in URLs to identify a particular website. A typical domain name ( consists of two parts – A secondary level domain and a top level domain. A secondary level domain is the name you wish to use for your website – i.e. “company.” The top level domain goes at the end of the URL and is generally not restricted – i.e. .com or .org.

So what should you consider when choosing a domain name? The first consideration is to choose a name that is memorable and available for use. Most companies choose the name of their company or a variation of the company name. It is vital that the domain your company chooses is available for use to avoid potential litigation or trademark infringement. A thorough database search should be done for your chosen name. If your domain name is available, you will then be guided through the process of selecting and reserving your domain name. If you determine that you need a certain domain name that happens to be registered to a third party, you can contact the owner directly via a domain broker to try to purchase that domain name, or, watch the expiration of the domain name registration to determine whether the name is renewed.

You may also register your domain name as a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The domain is only registerable if it is distinctive – the domain name must be capable of distinguishing your goods or services from other companies’ goods or services. If the proposed second level domain name would not be distinctive enough to qualify for trademark registration, then adding a top level domain designation, or adding “corp” or “inc” to the name, will not remedy this. It is also required that the trademarked name is in use in interstate commerce as a trademark or service mark representing your company. Use of the trademark solely as a domain name URL does not qualify as use in interstate commerce for trademarking purposes – the company must be actively in business.