Domain name law


A domain name is a key asset to a number of businesses since their online homepage is often the first port of call for customers and any interested members of the public. Indeed many of us know certain companies by their online reputation alone which emphasises the importance of a good domain name. But what if someone has taken that domain name or has abused it in some way? That is where domain name law works to protect established reputations and punish freeloaders.

Some aspects of domain name law are now mentioned frequently in the press, for example cyber-squatting. This is the process by which someone uses a domain name in bad faith with the intent of capitalising on the good will or the famous name of another company or brand. A typical example could be registering a domain name which is the same as the name of an up-and-coming sports personality so that they will have to pay the cyber-squatter excessive amounts to buy that domain off them. Another example is the typo-squatter who creates a website with a domain name that is a misspelling of a famous brand or company, capitalising on those who have made a typographical error when online.

These acts defy a type of domain name law which is rooted more deeply in intellectual property law. Typo-squatters can be fined under the Trade Marks Act for using a similar variant on a trademarked name as this is restricted by the act. The Uniform Dispute for Domain Names Resolution Policy (UDRP) is a process by which such claims for infringement can be taken; however the three elements necessary to proceed with this claim include bad faith of the cyber-squatter, similarity between domain name and trademarked name and that the cyber-squatter has no legitimate interest in the domain name. Proving this could be particularly hard if the alleged cyber-squatter has created, for example, a fan site for a music group or other company by using an alteration of their trademarked name.

Domain name law can affect many people since it is easy to create a domain name without realising that certain laws are being flouted in doing so. Speak to an expert IT solicitor for advice on how to bring an action or how to create a domain name within the remits of the law.

If you would like to obtain legal advice or information on domain name law then Caven can put you in touch with a local specialist IT solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local IT solicitors please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.


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