Ask The Expert: Does owning a domain name protect my trademark?

Alexis Martin Neely, America’s Personal Lawyer

Alexis advises families and small business owners on how to set their business and life up to be ready to soar. Her LIFT System covers the legal foundation, insurance protection, financial systems and tax strategies you must have in place to pursue your highest vision without worry, doubt or fear. A mom of two running a million dollar business from home, Alexis understands the needs of women entrepreneurs.

Does owning a domain name protect my trademark? When do I need to worry about trademark protection and what steps should I take?

Owning a domain name does NOT automatically protect a trademark. Trademark rights vest in the first person/company to use the mark AS A BRAND, IN COMMERCE. So, just getting the domain name isn’t enough – you have to actually use that mark as a brand for goods and/or services. If it’s a service offering, a brochure or Web site is proof of first use. If the mark is for a tangible product, we have to see packaging or the actual product available for sale.

And, remember, the if the domain name is “likely to confuse consumers as to the source of the goods and services” compared to another trademark already in use, then you may be infringing on a prior users trademark rights even if you got the .com domain.

ALWAYS talk to your personal lawyer if you are uncertain about whether you might be infringing on someone’s trademark and to ensure you are protecting your own fully. I do not recommend handling trademark issues on your own as there are many traps for the unwary and this is far too important for you to be wasting your time with.

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