Protection of Domain Names as a Trademark

In the digital era, a company's online presence, anchored by its domain name, holds immense value. Recognizing this, businesses are increasingly seeking to protect their domain names as trademarks. This article explores the intersection of domain names and trademarks, delving into the criteria for registration and the global protection mechanisms in place. It emphasizes the importance of thorough research before registration to avoid infringement issues. The discussion also addresses legal aspects, including liability for infringement and passing off, underscoring the significance of protecting a brand's identity in the evolving digital landscape.

Protection of Domain Names as a Trademark


In an era dominated by the digital landscape, a company's online presence is often as valuable as its physical assets. One crucial aspect of this digital identity is the domain name, which serves as the gateway to a brand's online world. Recognizing the significance of domain names, many businesses are now taking proactive measures to protect them as trademarks.


What is a Domain name?

A domain name is a unique string of characters that represents a particular realm of administrative control or authority within the internet. It is formed according to the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS). Every name registered in the DNS is considered a domain name. Generally, a domain name is used to represent an internet protocol resource, such as a personal computer used to access the internet, a server computer hosting a website, or the website itself. There are only a limited number of domain names, such as gov for government agencies, edu for educational institutions, org for non-profit organizations, com for commercial businesses, etc.

Simply, a domain name is the web address of a site that is designed to be easy to identify and remember, such as These user-friendly addresses help connect people and computers on the internet. Because they are easy to remember and use, domain names have become a way for businesses to identify themselves and attract potential customers to their websites. In fact, domain names have even become trademarks, such as


What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a good or service. The owner of a trademark has the exclusive right to use it, and competitors are not allowed to use the same or similar mark to sell similar products or services. Trademark laws enable businesses to market their products and services by allowing consumers to associate a particular mark with the products they like. The trademark serves as a guarantee to consumers that they will continue to get consistency and quality in the products they buy.

The rapid growth of online businesses and advertising has led to a surge in demand for domain names associated with specific businesses, goods, or services. The rush to reserve domain names has resulted in several disputes over trademark infringement. For instance, some companies that wanted to use their established trademark as a domain name discovered that it had already been taken. Once a domain name is selected, the holder may be able to secure trademark protection to prevent others from using the name. However, trademark rights in commercial domain names are narrower than trademark rights in other areas.


If you are considering registering and safeguarding your domain names as a trademark at either the national or international level, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First and foremost, the domain names you wish to register must comply with all the requirements to be properly listed and safeguarded as a trademark. This means that any exclusive net designation that is capable of classifying and identifying unique goods or services in a particular company and can also serve as a reliable identifier of origin for the concerned goods and services in the net, can be listed and safeguarded as a trademark, provided that it meets all additional instructions and requirements for registering that are usually pertinent to trademarks.

In order to register a domain name as a trademark, it must be clearly unique and distinguishable from all other names and trademarks on the net, so that it does not mislead buyers of the companies involved in similar or dissimilar arenas or disrupt communal instructions or ethics. Failure to meet these criteria could lead to cases of infringement, which could have serious legal and financial consequences.

Therefore, it is important to conduct thorough research and analysis of your domain name and its potential trademark status before registering it. This will help you ensure that your domain name is properly protected and registered as a trademark and that you can use it effectively to promote and grow your business in the digital space.


Trademark v. Domain name

Trademarks are recognized and protected only in the jurisdictions where they are properly registered. They may not be protected worldwide. Domain names as trademarks or service marks are registered and protected globally by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), along with national and international protection under relevant trademark laws and international treaties. However, national or international trademark laws may not be fully capable of protecting a domain name in all countries. To address this issue, ICANN and WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) have implemented two measures: a rigorous system for registering domain names with accredited registrars and an efficient dispute resolution policy called the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDNDR Policy).



  1. “Liability for infringement”-  After registering a trademark, the holder is provided with solid legal protection. This protection allows the holder to take legal action against any violation or passing off of their trademark. It is important to note that the passing off solution can be used even if the trademark is not registered. However, the solution can only be used if the trademark is listed correctly according to the requirements. This means that an individual who has a domain name that infringes upon a registered trademark can be held accountable for infringing upon the trademark law.
  2. “Liability for Passing off”: The text below explains the theory that no one has the right to pass off their goods as someone else's. It means that an individual cannot sell their products by pretending that they belong to someone else. The modern tort of "passing off" has four essential components:

·         A dealer misrepresents their goods to potential customers or buyers of the goods, which damages the reputation of another trader. This misrepresentation should be a reasonably foreseeable circumstance, and it should result in real harm to the reputation of the trader with whom the act is being carried out.

·         Trademarks are essential for promoting goods and making them known to buyers. They help to describe the nature and quality of the goods and can become well-known over time. In a passing off case, the claimant's right is opposed to the behavior of the person who is causing harm, which can lead to exploitation.

·         In the Indian legal system, the protection of domain names is more important than merely recognizing rights under the UDNDR Policy. The Act is broader and more efficient in granting the greatest protection to domains worldwide.

·         No statutory provision can override a constitutional provision. In cases of dispute, the latter should be given precedence over the former.




Protecting domain names as trademarks is a critical aspect of brand management in the digital age. Registering domain names as trademarks involves adhering to specific criteria and requirements. Thorough research and analysis are essential before registration to prevent potential cases of infringement. Domain names benefit from global protection while trademarks are recognized and protected only in the jurisdictions where they are registered. Protecting a brand's reputation and identity in the digital space is crucial.