trademark registration and search by



What's in a domain name?

Proper selection and trademarking of domain names is more important then it may at first appear.

Unless a company or product name is already well known (branded) it is often inappropriate to use the company name as the domain name. If, however, the company name includes a very important keyword or key phrase, then selecting the company name as the domain name can work to your advantage.

The underlying issue here is largely based on the fact that about 86% of all people find websites by using one of the major search engines. This is an important factor for doing well on the search engines because domain names that contain important keywords or keyphrases are given higher "relevance" values by many of the major search engines. Given the choice of Smith.Com or Widgets.Com a website selling "widgets" will generally do much better selecting Widgets.Com. Most people search by product categories unless they are looking for both a brand name and particular product at the same time. In this instance it would be productive to create a domain name similar to Widgets-By-Smith.Com.

Only those domain names that are not already registered with the Internic can be selected. Many of the names that you might want are no longer available. For your convenience we provide a domain name search utility which you should use to determine if any of your preferred choices are still available.

Why trademark a domain name?

Isn't registration with the Internic sufficient to provide the necessary protection ? No, it is not! See the details below.

An article by Dan Goodin, of CNET, published on 4/23/99, reports that a Federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled:

"Simply registering an address on the Internet does not establish the owner's right to receive trademark protection, even against a competing name used after the domain name was obtained."

A panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a domain name must be publicly used to sell goods or services in order to be protected. The decision, rendered on April 22, means that the owner of the domain name" may not use it to promote its Web site offering movie reviews, news, and industry commentary. This decision made it clear that registering a domain name with the Internic (Network Solutions) "...does not in itself constitute 'use' for purposes of acquiring trademark priority."

The unanimous decision of the panel was that Federal law "grants trademark protection only to marks that are used to identify and to distinguish goods or services in commerce--which typically occurs when a mark is used in conjunction with the actual sale of goods or services."

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