Domain Names & Trademarks

April 2000
by Ivan Hoffman, B.A., J.D.

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Ivan HoffmanIvan Hoffman (photo right) is a publishing, copyright, Internet law, recording, and music attorney as well as a published writer and author. He practices in the Los Angeles area. You may reach him at or 818/342-1762.

If you’re a writer, publisher, Web site designer, or site owner and if you own, claim to own, use or want to use intellectual property on the Internet, then you must have at least a short but functional knowledge of how the United States trademark, copyright, and other laws—as well as various state laws—may apply to you. There’s an intimate relationship among your rights and the rights of others. At any moment, you may be both a user of other’s protected materials and a creator of your own. Both they and you deserve to have your intellectual property rights protected.

In addition to the more traditional logos and designs that are the subject of trademark law, domain names are now also subject to being trademarked if they otherwise qualify as marks. Indeed, the rules for what may and may not qualify for trademark status are not all that different except that the Internet presents further issues.

Some Points to Consider

Before discussing the issue of how one can obtain a trademark in a domain name, it might be helpful to first explain how the Internet impacts upon regular, real-world marks. If a mark in the hard-copy world is also being used in relation to goods or services provided via the Internet, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) policy is that any registration for such Internet use is to be filed under the same classifications as apply to the use of the mark in the hard-copy world. In other…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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