Domain Name Basics
When starting your pet care or pet-related business, you will want to be sure to have an online presence, especially in today’s media driven world. For online protection of your business, name, and profits, it is a good idea to get a domain name that fits your website. Anyone who wishes to acquire a domain name can purchase one if someone else hasn’t beaten them and claimed that particular domain name. All you need to do is find a local registrar select one of the available domain names, and pay a fee for the activation of the domain and website. There are restrictions regarding what domain names you are allowed to use and certain domains require special criteria to be met, such as for the use of .edu addresses, .gov addresses, and so forth. Until a domain name has been paid for and claimed, nobody “owns” it per-say. In reality, no domain name is ever really owned, rather they are leased for usually 1 to 3 years, and will require re-registration or extension and further payments in order to keep the domain registered in your name. Getting the name registered is important as it can help protect you from misuse of your name by unauthorized parties.
“The owner of a trademark must have clearly established possession of that trademark, or have gotten the trademark registered. This shows ownership of a trademark” Laws.com
Another interesting fact to point out is that a domain name does not have to be connected to a website or associated with an IP address. For example, a great number of online companies purchased domain names where the wording of the domain name could be seen as derogatory tot heir business. These domain names don’t point at anything at all and were simply bought to keep someone else from buying them and using them against that particular company. Imagine you have a pet grooming business with the domain name of happydogcare.com. There might be a domain name along the lines of happydeaddogcare.com. You could buy that domain name and leave it inactive. This would prevent someone else from opening a site that mocks or spreads negative and false stories about your happy dog care business. So not all domains, even though they have been purchased, will get you to a website. Places such as networksolutions can offer a great selection of domain names to choose from.
Registering a trademark for your business to protect its name is pretty straightforward. You can file an application online without the help of a lawyer and it usually takes as little as 60-90 minutes depending on how much information you have and well your records are kept. The quickest and easiest way to register is on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Web site. Before you carry out the online registration and fill out all the forms, it is a good idea to check the site’s Trademark Electronic Search System (“TESS”) database. This will allow you to look at all domain names already claimed and helps you make sure another company does not already have the same or similar domain name within the same market or service area that you are working in.
Online trademark registration costs vary but you can expect to pay between $200 and $300. There is a good deal of information that is required such as the categories of goods and services, products that will carry the trademark or name, date of the name was first use in commerce, and whether there’s a design component or if you are just registering a name with no logo or branding. Avoid registering your .com, .net, or .gov extension. Getting a trademark without the domain extension helps protect you further. If you include the extension than someone else can take your exact same name and simply add a new ending- you could end up with happydogcar.com and happydogcare.net, which can be confusing for your customers and can steal business from you.
Reporting Trademark Violations
In order to report trademarks infringement, you must have demonstrated an established possession of that domain name, or have it official registered. If you suspect someone of infringing on your rights by using your business or domain name against your authority, then you can seek legal action again the offending party.
“To prove trademarks infringement, the plaintiff must show he or she has been using the trademark, and has clearly established ownership, whether it be through use over time, or by means of registration with the United States Patents and Trademark Office.” Laws.com
For more information on registering and protecting your domain name and business trademarks check out: http://trademark.laws.com/trademark-infringement/trademark-infringement-lawsuits
Staying alert and keeping an eye out for places where your domain and business name can pop up. Social site such as Facebook and twitter are popular offenders but any media based place can misuse domain names. So the best cure is good prevention by registering and staying alert. Debbie on Domain Name Basics