Legal Aspects of Choosing a Domain Name

Legal Aspects of Choosing a Domain Name(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – Choosing the right domain name for your website can be a difficult task. There are several aspects of the selection process that you need to evaluate: It must be a proper reflection of your brand and your website, it must be memorable, and ideally it must be available under the appropriate generic top-level domains (gTLDs). In addition, one area that new users might not be aware of is the legal aspect that comes along with domain selection. It is essential to think through all of the potential legal consequences to your new domain name, especially with new gTLDs coming out later this year.

Check Availability

When you have narrowed down the domain name you wish to register, the very first step in the process is to check its availability on the market. You might discover that the name is already in use from another party. Sometimes the best solution in that case is to simply choose another name. However, there may be an instance where someone has registered one of your trademarked products.

This tends to happen to more popular brand names, but let’s say, for example, you have trademarked the name, “ProductX.” Someone might try to register the domain name ProductX.com before you, and then wait for you to pay them to release it. This is referred to as “cyber squatting”, and it can be a complex legal issue. A list of popular domain name disputes in the past can be found here.

Check Trademarks

Let’s take a look at the other side of that previous point. When selecting your domain name, you want to make sure that you are not unknowingly infringing on someone else’s trademarked name, because it could get you into legal trouble. In addition to checking the availability of the name itself, you should also be checking if the name is trademarked. You don’t want to invest a lot of time in to developing your marketing around a specific domain only to be forced to change it later.

Trademark Your Product Names

If you’ve successfully passed the first two steps without any legal issues, you want to prevent any potential future problems by registering a trademark for all the product and brand names that you will be basing your domain name off of, if you have not done so already. In our previous example, you should go through the process of trademarking ProductX at the same time you register the ProductX.com domain name. This way, if someone were to try to use the ProductX name with a different TLD, you can regain control of your trademarked name.

Prevent Cybersquatting

The best form of defensive is a good offense. Proactively registering domain names in order to prevent others registering your trademark or product as a domain name is highly recommended. This will prevent most cases of cybersquatting. When you register the domain name for your business, you should have the option of registering that name with multiple gTLDs. So if you are trying to prevent any potential issues down the road, it would be best to not only register a .com, but also a .net, .org, or any of the new gTLDs that will be coming out later this year. We are certainly not recommending registering hundreds of domain names in all possible TLDs, but if your website and trademarks’ value is critical to your business, then a sensible protection strategy is highly recommended and can help avoid legal pitfalls in the future.

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