Protection of Domain Names
Updated: Jul 8, 2021
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. That name should be legally available to use and distinctive enough to function as a trademark. Descriptive names are not capable of trademark protection. It is easier to build a unique online brand if the chosen domain name is legally available for usage, is distinctive, and not descriptive in nature. If others are passing off your brand by registering your name as a domain; you’re in a strong position to recover from them. When a business is unlucky enough to be required to rebrand, the costs can be significant. The business could suffer a substantial drop in revenues overnight as it's not always feasible to redirect the old domain to the new one. It will also be difficult for customers, both current and future, to find a new domain. With the proliferation of the internet, there has been an explosion of registered domain names. However, it is interesting to note that internet-accessible computers read a series of internet protocols or IP numbers rather than domain names. Because these numbers are random and difficult to remember, the US government developed a system that links each IP number to a specific domain name. This system is commonly referred to as the domain name system.
Meaning Of Domain Name –
A domain name could be said to be the internet equivalent of a telephone number or address. For instance, the domain name for our organization is www.theipmatters.com. A domain name helps to locate a particular web page and send emails. Without the domain, the name computer would have no idea where we have to look for a webpage and email routers would not be able to then send emails. With growing online business, domain names are much more than just addresses since they can be selected by the addressee and are closely associated with a particular service or product.
Classification Of Domain Names –
Domain names are divided into hierarchies. A specific domain name can be divided into three parts-
1. A top-level domain
2. Second level domain
3. Sub-level domain
For example, in www.theipmatters.com
www= Sub-level domain
The IP Matters= Second level domain
.Com = Top level domain
Again, the top-level domain can be further classified into
Generic Top-level domain
Such as .com which is used by commercial organizations, .int – used by international organizations .gov- used by governmental organizations .org - used by NGOs. Prior to 2000, there were only three Generic Top-level domains that were available for registration: .com, .org, .net. But in November 2000 after long and complex discussions, seven new generic top-level domains have been added.
Country code top-level domains
In addition to these generic domain names, each country has been given a unique country code top-level domain name, for instance, .ca indicates a domain in Canada, .in indicates for India. Anyone who wants to register a particular domain name in his or her name can apply for registration with the ICANN-approved domain name registry.
Relationship between Trademark and domain name-
Trademarks reduce the risk of consumers being confused about the source or origin of goods or services that they buy. Though domain names are technically not a form of intellectual property, domain names are regulated under the intellectual property laws due to a strong interconnection with trademark law. . The functions performed by trademarks in the offline world are similar to the ones performed by domain names in the online world, In Satyam Infoway Ltd. Vs. Sifynet Solution Pvt. Ltd, the Supreme Court held that domain name is recognizable as intellectual property such as trademarks.
As per the Trade Marks Act 1999, there could be concurrent utilization of trademark by more than one party, provided it is not deceptively similar causing customer confusion. Unlike trademark law in the offline world, concurrent usage of domain names in the online world is forbidden. This has led to a spate of disputes between domain name holders, trademark owners, and private individuals.
As the internet is becoming an immensely popular and highly preferred platform for the flow of commercial business and information of all types, protecting a domain name is more important than ever. The necessity to protect domain names in present times has augmented manifold both in relation to online communication and business and commercial transactions on the internet. However, there needs to be a complete overhaul of the present system for the efficient protection of domain names.