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Frequently Asked Questions

Question

Is a Domain Name an Automatic Trademark?

Answer

Adapted from Slashdot: Even if they own a trademark on a name, that's insufficient grounds for a domain transfer. ICANN has some pretty well-established arbitration rules for these cases. Of particular note are sections 4a and 4b. A valid complaint exists only if: * (i) your domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and * (ii) you have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and * (iii) your domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. You'll notice there's an "and" between each of those. All three have to be true for the complaint to even be considered. Section 4b outlines some examples of "bad faith". * (i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or * (ii) you have registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or * (iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or * (iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location. Please note that putting a parked page with targeted advertising on the domain is considered a legitimate business use. However, it's generally considered to have the lowest priority among business uses. If its use infringes on the trademark of another (non-targeted ad parked page) legitimate business, generally ICANN comes down on the side of the trademark holder and authorizes the transfer of the domain to the trademark holder if that trademark is somewhat well-known. In other words, even if the other site has a trademark, if you're using it for a legitimate business and your site does not compete with them (does not leech off their fame for commercial gain), you're pretty safe.

  • Submitted by: baffa
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