Domain Names

Domains names can conflict with trademarks. Owning a trademark does not entitle you to buy the domain. Where there is trouble is when someone is cybersquatting. Here you have to be careful. Courts have held that intentionally registration a trademarked domain with intent to sell to the owner of the trademark may constitute trademark infringement. The other big issue is dilution which means the owner of the domain is hurting the reputation of the trademark. The trademark must be famous for this to be actionable.

Defenses against cybersquatting and dilution include that the trademark was never used in commerce. If the trademark is not being used commercially, then there normally isn’t a viable claim. Some courts will consider a minimal connection. The best defense is fair use. Fair use is any noncommercial use, news reporting, criticism, parody, caching, or use other than for a mark.

As a side note “misspelled” domain names falls under cybersquatting or dilution depending on how it is used. Just because a domain is misspelled does not give it more protection than an infringing domain that is spelled correctly.