What is a web domain?
A domain name is a string of text that maps to a numeric IP address, used to access a website from client software. In other words, a domain name is the text that a user types into a browser window to reach a particular website. Registering a domain gives you the exclusive ability to use it for your website for a set amount of time. After that time, you have to either renew the domain name so you can keep it, or it expires and someone else can register it for themselves.
It's important to note that registering a domain name doesn't automatically:
make that name a trademark
give you exclusive rights to use and protect that name
What is a trademark?
Trademark is defined as a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other businesses. The main purpose of trademark registration is to protect distinctive brands from infringement attempts, ensuring that their image and reputation gained from the customers remains associated solely with the original brand. As a result, trademarks are well suited for brands, product name, product logo, slogan, or any other brand assets, providing that these elements are used to distinguish a company’s offering from that of the competitors.
You can register a name or a logo separately, but the highest level of protection is achieved by making two trademark applications, for all essential creative assets of your brand. This approach provides an explicit protection for key branding elements, covering edge cases and ensuring that the uniqueness of the brand is strongly protected.
What is it?
A domain name is a unique string of letters that is a part of an internet address. It is common for a domain name to be the same or similar to a trade mark or a business name.
A trademark is any sign which can tell apart your goods and services from those of your competitors.
What is it used for?
Domain names are used to locate and bring users to a specific website or place on the internet.
A trademark is used to identify and distinguish your goods or services in the marketplace.
Do I need to register it?
Yes. You can submit a registration to any ICANN-accredited registrar
No, but it would provide additional protection for your business.
Why should I register it?
Registering a domain name gives you exclusive rights to use that domain for the duration of the licence period.
You can protect a registered trademark by law.
Can I protect a domain name by registering it as a trademark?
Trademarking your domain name is an important part of protecting your intellectual property. But although it is possible to register a domain name as a trademark, not every domain name will qualify for trademark protection. Domain trademark applies to a domain name if:
It is distinctive or its distinction results from consumer association of the name and the Internet business; and
The owner of the domain name was the first to use it in association with the sale of goods or services.
If the business name included in the domain would not be entitled to trademark registration because, for example, it is descriptive such as the term "shoes" as the name of a shoe store, and not sufficiently distinct, or suggestive to merit trademark protection, then just by adding a top level domain (TLD) designation, such as ".com", does not make the trademark eligible for registration.
How can I find out whether a trademark I want to use as a domain name is already being used?
As more and more companies are going digital, most people will want to be able to use their brand trademark as a domain name so that their customers can easily locate them on the internet. There are many ways to check if a domain name is available through online registrars.
The availability of a domain name can be determined by searching the website of an ICANN approved online registrar of domain names. The websites InterNIC and ICANN list the approved registrars. Every registrar provides a searching system to determine if a domain name is available. Type in the domain name choice and the registrar will determine if it is available. If you find that a domain name is already taken, it's possible to locate information about the owner of the domain name through Whois.net.