The first thing you need to understand, when it comes to your domain name, is the fact that, in the digital world, your domain name is the face and the name of your company. In other words, allowing someone to take advantage of your domain name is like allowing them to use your logo a product name in their own marketing efforts. Needless to say, for any serious business, this should be completely out of question. The simplest way to protect this from ever happening is to trademark a domain name. Here are several reasons why this is a good idea, as well as a brief rundown of how this should be done.
1. Why do you need to protect your domain name?
First of all, before you even decide to trademark your domain name, you need to be fully aware of all the advantages that this particular course of action brings and the hazards that the lack of adequate protection brings. You see, someone else registering under your (or similar) name, is something that can be more harmful in the long-run than you might imagine. Unfortunately, we live in an era of cybersquatters (people who are willing to use your brain recognition to push their own agenda) and getting a trademark on your domain name can be the only way out.
Sure, someone simply using a bit of your popularity may sound bad but it’s not nearly as bad as it can be. Almost a full decade ago, a website called FreeLegoPorn.com started publishing pornographic images with Lego toys as protagonists. As crazy as this may sound, you can only imagine just how horrible this can be for a kid-friendly (even kid-oriented) brand such as Lego. Despite this website having nothing to do with the actual Lego company, it could still land a serious blow to the brand as a whole.
This, however, is merely the tip of the iceberg. Cybersquatting, offensive content, PPC advertising, false association and e-commerce product sites are just some of the ways in which your domain name can be illegally used online. These alone are reason enough why you need to protect your domain name in any way possible.
2. Do your research
Before you apply for a trademark, you need to conduct a thorough search and check if you’re infringing on someone else’s trademark. Keep in mind that this is important due to the fact that, in the case of a declined application, you will still get charged the filing fee. The Australian Patent and Trademark Office Web site is the place where you want to check for existing trademarks, in fact, the time to do so is before you register your own trademark name.
In this way, you can save money on a futile attempt, as well as avoid a potential trademark infringement lawsuit. Now, for those who are determined to stay on the safe side, no matter the cost or the effort invested, you might want to consult trademark lawyers, like the ones from Actuate IP and ask any questions you might still have. Once you’ve conducted your research, you might be ready to proceed to the next step.
3. Fill out an application
As for the application that needs to be filed, there are several ways to do so. Here, there are two major factors to determine which of these methods is best suited for you. The first one is whether or not you live in the Australia. Registering trademark may differ from country to country. For Australian-based companies and entrepreneurs, you need to consider whether or not the mark is already used in commerce. Unfortunately, one of the things that a lot of people get wrong is the expediency of this process. Keep in mind that this is still a tricky area and it might take up to four months for your application to be reviewed.
4. Alert the public
Once your trademark has finally been approved, you need to think about the cost-efficiency of the entire ordeal. After all, you trademarked your domain name in order to protect it from abuse and misuse, not in order to capitalize on lawsuits filed against others. Therefore, you need to find an efficient way to warn others that your domain name is protected by trademark and that infringing on it will result in serious consequences. Luckily, for this, you can use service mark symbols such as TM and SM. Aside from this, you can also use the ® symbol and in this way achieve the same effect.
5. Don’t forget about the renewal
Finally, you need to understand that the trademark doesn’t last forever. In fact, from the moment you get approved, your trademark registration can last as long as 10 years. After this is over, you need to apply for a renewal. Keep in mind, however, that the process of renewal of continuation of registration is, procedure-wise, much simpler. Nonetheless, you need to make sure you don’t forget this vital step, somewhere along the way.
At the end of the day, creating a strong and powerful brand doesn’t mean as much if you can’t protect what you’ve created. Sure, fighting for what’s yours is never easy, yet, running a company or managing a brand was never supposed to be easy in the first place. First, however, make sure that you’re not making a mistake yourself, then, make sure to do everything by the book. Once you have this out of the way, all you need to do is be on a constant lookout for any potential infringement. A work of an entrepreneur or digital marketing manager is never truly over.