Trademark issues related to Internet Domain Names


In the cutting edge situation, data innovation has turned into a fundamental piece of our lives. The advancement of web and the trading of information among various PCs prompted major innovative and in addition media transmission transformations. Be that as it may, innovation can be a help and additionally a bane.

ICT has significantly added to the expanding number of digital wrongdoings in the general public. 2016 report of PWC underlined that at a worldwide level digital wrongdoing is the second most revealed wrongdoing on the planet. As indicated by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), 27,482 instances of digital wrongdoing were accounted for from January 2017 to June 2017.

After the development of web-based business, business substances have begun prospering and growing their exercises on the web. In any case, an organization can’t straightforwardly enter the internet without a personality. One of a kind Internet Protocol (IP) addresses were not infectious and hard to recollect because of its every numeric trademark. This prompted the advancement of Domain Name Systems (DNS). DNS was acquainted as a substitute with the all-numeric customary IP address. DNS essentially capacities to change over complex IP locations of messages and sites into basic space names for simple access by the normal client. Area names are presently additionally alluded to as important corporate resources conveying generosity. A few cases for the name are –

  • com for commercial
  • .int for organizations established by international treaties.
  • .net for computers of network providers.

Trademark and Domain Name

While trademark provides a unique identity to a product, domain names can be called as internet resource locators. A domain can also be regarded as the internet address of a company which after many years of use becomes the identity for their diversified products lines. Hence, the question here is that whether a domain name can be regarded as trademarks and vice versa?  However, there has been much fuss about the resemblance of the two within the cyber world.

The company has to consider number factors while applying for a domain name, which also includes the inclusion of the trademark within the domain name. A domain name can be regarded as a trademark and trademark can be used while registering a domain name but it is only beneficial if the same company does so. Sometimes, well-known trademarks are used as domain names by hoaxers so as to deceive the customers.

However, Domain name and trademark sound similar; there are a number of differences between the two like –

  • Trademark operates in the real world while domain name operates in the cyber world.
  • The trademark registration is generally at a national level but domain name registration is at a global level.
  • Different persons residing in different countries can have the same trademark for different goods and services since it does not generally have a global impact but domain name operate at a global level and hence, two companies/persons cannot have the same domain name. For instance, “Delta” is used by a number of companies like Delta Airlines, Delta Dental etc but the domain name com is used only by the airline industries.
  • Dispute with regards to a trademark can be easily settled because there are no jurisdiction issues but domain name disputes are hard to settle because the internet has no boundaries.
  • Trademark can refer to or relate to a specific category of a product or product line but domain names are not provided for every single product offered by a company. There can be a domain name for the entire company within which the company can have a range of products.

Registration of Domain Name

With the increasing use of the internet in almost every field, there was a need to have a regulating body in order to grant and maintain records of IP Address. Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) was set up under the supervision of the US Government to carry out the functions such as-

  • Allocations of IP addresses.
  • Setting up protocol parameters to ensure that computers can communicate with each other.
  • Maintaining registries and making it available for general public use.

In December 1992, their contractual agreement between National Science Foundation and Network Solutions Inc (NSI) after which NSI registered domain name sites through InterNic site. In 1998 IANA was transferred to the private sector when US government came up with the policy of establishing Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Then in October 1998, ICANN superseded IANA by taking over all the functions of IANA.

ICANN maintains high standards and procedures with respect to assignment and maintenance of domain name records. Any member of the ICANN community if aggrieved by ICANN staff, board or any other constituent body of ICANN can file a complaint to the Ombudsman. Article 5 of Bylaws for ICANN provides for maintaining a full-time position office of an Ombudsman who shall act as a neutral dispute resolution body to settle such disputes.

It is divided into Top Level Domain (TLD) and Second Level Domain (SLD). The TLD is further divided into Generic (gTLD) and Geographic (also called country code represented as ccTLD). The nature of generic domain name is international, for example – .edu for educational institutions, .com for commercial use etc. Geographic domain name is just opposite to generic ones i.e. they are for specific countries like “.in” for India. Recently, ICANN also came up with the policy of Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) which enables trademark registration of a domain name in the local language and scripts like Arabic, Devanagari etc. which are encoded by the Unicode Standard.

Settlement of Domain Name Disputes

Domain name disputes became rampant mainly because of the jurisdictional issues within the cyberspace. 2016 was the year in which cybersquatting cases hit record. The US is the first country to introduce a legislation which is specifically for trademark infringement in cyberspace known as the Anticybersquatting Infringement Act, 1999. In general, domain name disputes can be solved in the following manner by –

  •  ADR mechanisms such as Arbitration and Mediation.
  •  Court Proceedings
  •  Agreement between the parties (Example- The parties may arrive at a mutual conclusion for some consideration).
  •  Conforming to a procedure for settlement of disputes as entered in the domain name as trademark registration agreement entered between registrar and registrant.

Related Topic: Rights of Copyright Owners

By |2018-10-29T07:29:21+00:00July 27th, 2018|Trademark Registration|

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