Trademarking Domain Names
In a win for a business owner, the Supreme Court recently held that a company’s website which used a .com ending was protectable as a trademark, reversing the decision of the trademark office. Booking.com had attempted to register its domain, Booking.com and the USPTO rejected the application claiming it was generic. The trademark office argued that the use of a “generic.com” term was always generic and there was no need to conduct an inquiry into what the actual customers thought. In ruling for the business owner, the Supreme Court said that because customers believed the term was a source indicator, the term was trademarkable.
Websites are Valuable Company Asset
Today, 93% of American use the internet for shopping and leisure activities. To capitalize on this, many businesses have an online presence. To help create an online presence, typically a business will create a website to promote its brand and sell goods or services online. The website typically has an internet address which is called the domain name for the website. This is the internet address where the company’s website is located and the most preferred addresses have a .com ending.
Registering a Website Name
When a competitor sees that your website is doing well, they may attempt to choose a similar domain name hoping to gain some of your customers by creating confusion with their competing website. Typically, this type of behavior is considered trademark infringement. Trademarking your website name may help you protect your business.
Trademarking your website can help:
- Put others on notice that you have a federal trademark registration
- Prevent others from confusing your customers
- Prevent others from importing infringing products into the United States
- Register your brand with various online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay
- Establish your priority date
- Prevent others from registering a confusingly similar website name
- Allow you to seek registration of your trademark in other countries around the world