Domain Availability – What You Need to Know
Domain names are much like a street address, only the identify the virtual location of your website and business. Domain name availability is best searched through a domain registrar, or directly through the Whois Lookup. Securing a domain after searching domain availability is only the beginning since a domain does not provide protection for use of any distinctive terms contained in the domain as a trademark for the goods and services you sell at the URL.
There are three important points to remember about domain availability.
1. A domain name is not a substitute for a trademark registration. A domain name, or the URL, is simply a location and does not identify or protect the right to sell specific goods or services. A trademark or service mark on the other hand, gives the right to use certain words, symbols, or logos in connection with the sale of certain goods or services. Domain availability and registration does not guarantee one will qualify for a trademark. Read Domain Names are Not Trademarks
2. When expanding your business outside the US, or where there are company specific distributors or licensees, a written agreement governing ownership and use of your trademark in a domain is vital. Affiliates should never be allowed to register and own domain names containing your trademarks. Written agreements are important in order to maintain rights in your trademarks. Failure to do so could result in loss of rights in those countries.
3. ICANN allows for registration of company specific as well as Generic Top Level Domains (Gtlds). The Trademark Clearinghouse has been established to allow trademark owners to register trademarks in order to prevent registration of them in these privately operated domain registries. An example
To learn more about the Trademark Cleaning House read: ICANN as Big Brother