When you hear “Nissan”, what do you think of? A car manufacturer or computer company?
Unfortunately for Nissan Motor Co., customers who visit www.nissan.com do not find a car website but a website for a small computer company based in Raleigh, NC. That’s because the computer company used the name before Nissan Motor’s brand became well-known across the nation.
The computer company has been able to keep its domain name — after battling in the courts with Nissan Motor for 15 years. If Nissan Motor had registered the domain name first, it would not have suffered this embarrassing legal and public relations loss.
Trademark / Domain Name Registration: How it Protects Your Brand
Preventing domain name trademark infringement protects your organization’s reputation and eliminates public confusion. Your organization should therefore register all trademark / domain names associated with its brand as early as possible.
Other companies may take domain names like yours in good faith (due to having a similar name). Others could take it in bad faith in cybersquatting cases (i.e., intentionally taking a similar domain to sell it to you or generating revenue based on your organization’s reputation).
To avoid the possibility of domain name trademark infringement, your organization should register as many domain names as possible that comprise the permutations of your organization’s name.
How Many Trademark / Domain Names Should I Register?
Given the low cost of domain name registration, registering several trademark / domain names is a cost-effective means of trademark protection.
Below are domain name categories you should consider when registering for domain names, along with examples of a hypothetical non-profit Jubilee Youth Institute:
- Common misspellings and typos (e.g., www.jubillee.com)
- Hyphens between words (e.g., www.jubilee-youth-institute.com)
- Plural and singular words (e.g., www.jubileeyouthinstitute.org and www.jubileeyouthinstitutes.org)
- Abbreviations and short forms of names (e.g., www.jubileeinst.org)
- Generic words related to your organization (e.g., www.youtheducation.org)
- Geographic terms added to your name (e.g., www.jubilee-dallas.org)
We recommend registering permutations in all of the three most common top-level domains: .com, .org, and .net. You should also register under top-level country domain names in key countries if your organization conducts business internationally.
Don’t Let Domain Name Trademark Infringement Impact Your Organization
Given the relatively low cost of domain name registration, owning an extensive portfolio of domain names related to key trademarks is well worth it to curb the risk of domain name trademark infringement, which can tarnish your organization’s reputation. For further guidance on protecting your organization from domain name trademark infringements, consult with intellectual property lawyers.
This memo is provided for general information purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice. The transmission of this memo does not create an attorney/client relationship. No recipients of this memo should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this memo without seeking professional legal counsel. Gammon & Grange, P.C. expressly disclaims all liability relating to actions taken or not taken based on the content of this memo.