Domain name is a unique address that facilitates the user of the internet accessing websites. It consists of the selected mid-level domain (“ipi”, for example) and the top-level domain (“.si”, for example). Domain names are not intellectual property rights, however, they represent an important identifier of the business on the internet.
IPI advises its clients in the procedure for alternative (domain name) dispute resolution (ADR), which is a quick and inexpensive way of solving domain name disputes that does not exclude the possibility to resolve the dispute before a court later on. For more information, write us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registration of a domain name is crucial for companies that want to use a name, under which they were known or which they registered or wanted to register as trademarks.
The difference between a domain name and a trademarks is that trademark protection is limited to specific classes of goods or services, for which the product or service is registered. This means that different persons who use the identical sign for different goods or services, can do that without causing confusion on the market. A registered domain name, on the other hand, is not connected to a certain field of activity, therefore each domain name must be unique. This means that there can be only one “google.com” or “amazon.com”. The second key difference is that trademarks are limited to the territory on which they are registered, while domain names are used globally due to the way the internet functions.
The registration of a domain name does not grant exclusive rights to the applicant. Domain names are based solely on a contractual relationship between the applicant and the registrar (the company which is authorised to register domain names). Invoking exclusive rights is possible only if the domain name is based on a trademark, a copyright, a personal name right, a company name etc. Therefore, it is recommended to enforce the domain name with an intellectual property right such as a trademark. When the name is registered as a trademark, the protection of the domain name is much stronger.
It often happens that persons or companies, who want register a certain domain name, find out that the mid-level domain that matches their trademark or company name is not available because it has already been registered. The registration of a domain name is based on the old Roman principle prior tempore potior iure(first come, first served), which means that the holders of trademarks do not have any priority right on the domain name that matches their trademark.
Nevertheless, in certain cases holders of intellectual property rights may request the domain name applicants to transfer the use of the domain name they registered. In these cases we speak of domain name disputes. One of the most common examples is when a third party, who does not hold any trademark or any other right, registers a domain name identical or similar to the trademark of someone else. This is the so-called cybersquatting or domain name hijacking. The applicant then offers the sale of the domain name to the persons connected to the name of the domain for a higher price than the registration and the maintenance costs of the domain name. Exploiting domain names with the purpose of attracting the customers on a certain website is an act in bad faith for which a domain name dispute can be initiated.