I had a prospective client ask me the following question: “Should I trademark my domain name?”. I had no idea. But I knew who to ask: my local Seattle trademark attorney, Jefferson Coulter.
My question to Jefferson was regarding when and why a small business owner might want to trademark their domain name. Here was his answer:
It really depends on the domain name. What you really want are domain names that match your trademarks.
Usually, if you have a trademark (Alderbaran Web Design), you want to also own the domain name the matches it (AlderbaranWebDesign.com). This is a good thing when selling your business or if you are just creating a consistent brand message. It also allows you to prevent Cybersquatting and other ills of the digital world.
I recommend to people that they make sure they can get a matching domain name for their product, service or business name BEFORE they decide on what to call themselves (or their products or services.)
If you have a trademark registration, then you can prevent anyone from offering competing goods or services thru a website with a similar name. So, if you obtain a trademark registration for “Green Gopher” for a sustainability search engine and someone else pops up offering a search engine at www.1greengopher.com, you can use a quick (1-3 month) administrative process through the World Intellectual Property Organization to force the domain name to be transferred to you. Or you can sue them in Federal court (much more costly and time consuming.)
I very much appreciate Jefferson letting me post his response on my blog. If you’re in need of a trademark attorney in Seattle, give Jefferson Coulter a call. He’s done work for me, and my partner’s business, and his work is excellent. Thanks Jefferson for helping to answer this prospective client’s question!Jill
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.