If you register a domain name it doesn’t give you automatic proprietary rights to use that name. In fact people are sued over infringing use of domain names every day. If you register a business name, company name or domain name, it does not entitle you to automatic use of that name as a trademark.
The same word or series of words might be registered by other entities in other states. Or, without the proper research, you may have inadvertently registered the name which is trademarked by another entity. If you have registered the name as a trademark, you may be able to enforce that mark against any other entity that shares the same name, including their domain name.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is legal protection that is given to an aspect of packaging, letter, logo, number, phrase, picture, shape, smell, sound and /or word; associated with a business, service, product and/or brand.
A business name is the legal name, registered with ASIC, and used to identify your business as a legal entity. Registration of a business name identifies the ABN of the business and the legal owner(s) of the business. Business name registration is a compulsory requirement in all of the states and territories from which that business runs and operates from. Unlike registered trademarks, business names do not offer any proprietary rights of ownership and cannot be enforced against another entity.
What is a Company Name?
A company name is simply the name of the company set up by your accountant, solicitor or perhaps yourself. It is usually something like “Your Company Pty Ltd”. Like business names, a company name registered with ASIC does not convey a proprietary interest in that name. Unlike a registered trademark could be infringing if you do not do the correct research.
You must have heard of the phrase IP address? An IP address is a series of numbers like this 149.62.258.349 and is used to identify a location on the World Wide Web. However, because these numbers would be difficult to remember, they are assigned a domain name for ease of use.
Once again, a domain name does not convey a proprietary rights to that name. In fact if you registered a domain name including the words Coca Cola for example, you would get an infringement notice pretty quickly. However, if you own the registered trademark, then you can enforce your interest over all of the above.
Domain Name Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I file for a domain name with IP Australia?
A domain name if filed with the registrar accredited with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Or in Australia, the governing body that governs .com.au specific domain names is the AU Domain Administration or the (AUDA).
- If I have a trademark, do I have a domain name?
A trademark is a completely different thing to a domain name. If a trademark owner would like to use its trademark as its domain name, the owner must apply for a domain name registration with an ICANN-accredited registrar. If you have a registered trademark and you are unable to get the domain name, you might be able to force the owner of the domain name to stop using it and in some cases transfer it to you.
- If I use a domain name, does that count as trademark?
A domain name is not the same thing as a trademark. A domain name is simply a web address that points to web hosting which houses your website. However, if you get a trademark, then this could entitle you to ownership of the domain name too.