Thursday, February 9, 2012

The problem relating to trademark registration and domain name registration

In this generation, the world has seen that technology evolves faster than we had imagined decades ago. Today, the world is really on your hands. The evolution of mobile phones that produced ‘smart phones’ makes this possible. Such phones offer almost everything you can imagine. The highlight of these phones is the convenience of browsing on the internet. For this reason, even a small starting company would want to have a website to be able to target its audience more effectively. However, such company might experience a problem at the very first stage in the process of establishment of the website, the registration of its domain name.
Establishing a website is not as hard and not as costly as before. There are web hosting services that provide a simple process of creating a website using only drag and drop interface. It does not require technical skills to do such. Because of this, many individuals or entities can easily make a website for themselves. There is no problem with this. The problem lies on the fact that there are people who register domain names thinking that some time in the future a demand for such names will occur. In this case, they may sell the latter at a higher cost and with a huge profit. These people are called ‘domain name speculators’. They usually register a domain name without even maintaining a website. All they do is to wait for someone to make an offer to buy the domain name.
The worst part in this situation is that the speculators often actively look for entities or companies that do not have a website yet and they will register the entity’s trademark as a domain name. What happens is that when the entity later on tries to register its trademark as a domain name, it is not available anymore. Someone has already taken the domain name. The result is that even if the entity has a registered trademark, it cannot use the latter for its domain name. Of course, this is detrimental to its brand if the website domain name is different from its trademark. The only option for this is to buy the domain name. But this will usually cost a lot since this is exactly what the speculator is trying to achieve, a big time profit.
As of this time, I do not know of a law which prohibits this domain name speculating activity. I would think that Intellectual Property Law with regard to trademarks cannot be invoked because the domain names are not names in the technical sense. A domain name is an address in the web where a specific website can be found. Also, registration of the domain name is a property of the owner wherein the latter can exercise all the rights of ownership which includes the right not to use it. It is for these reasons that I think a court suit against a speculator cannot prosper unless a law specifically addressing this problem is enacted.
Since the problem cannot be solved at this point in time, the solution is to prevent it. There are ways to prevent such like registering your domain name early on so that there will be less opportunity for the speculators, or maybe before even registering a trademark, make sure that the domain name is not yet registered. In these instances, we can do away with the problems and complications that might crop up later on.

Adrian Francis S. Bustos, Entry #8


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mohan saravana said...

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