Trademarks and domain names are two different types of intellectual property. Trademarks are words, phrases, symbols, or designs that are used to identify the source of goods or services. Domain names are the addresses of websites on the internet.
In general, trademarks have priority over domain names. This means that if someone owns a trademark, they have the right to prevent others from using that trademark in their domain name. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.
One exception is if the domain name is used in good faith and for a non-commercial purpose. For example, if someone uses a trademark in their domain name to create a fan website for a company, this is generally considered to be fair use and the trademark owner cannot prevent them from using the domain name.
Another exception is if the domain name was registered before the trademark was registered. For example, if someone registers the domain name “amazon.com” in 1990, and then Amazon registers the trademark “Amazon” in 1995, the domain name owner would still be able to use the domain name.
Finally, trademarks can also be lost if they are not used. If a trademark owner does not use their trademark for a period of time, they may lose the right to enforce their trademark against others. This means that someone could register a domain name that includes the trademark and use it without permission from the trademark owner.
If you are unsure whether you can use a trademark in your domain name, it is best to consult with an attorney.
Here are some examples of cases where trademarks have not trumped domain names:
- In 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of a company called Toys “R” Us that used the domain name “toysrus.com” without permission from the owner of the trademark “Toys “R” Us.” The Court found that the use of the domain name was fair use because it was used in good faith and for a non-commercial purpose.
- In 2011, the United States Patent and Trademark Office ruled that a company called Google could use the domain name “chrome.com” without permission from the owner of the trademark “Chrome.” The Office found that the use of the domain name was descriptive and not likely to cause confusion among consumers.
These cases show that trademarks do not always trump domain names. There are a few exceptions to the general rule that trademarks have priority over domain names. If you are unsure whether you can use a trademark in your domain name, it is best to consult with an attorney.