Trademark Law for Webmasters

What Is A Trademark?

A trademark is a name or a symbol that businesses use to help people recognize them more easily. Using a trademark is a method of building brand recognition. Conflicts involving trademark violation are often resolved by trying to determine if the violation resulted in the a misrepresentation or confusion on the part of hte customer regarding who they were dealing with. If not authorized, usage of a trademark can be violation of trademark law.

Trademarks - Domain Names

On the internet, trademark violations typically occur in the domain or URL. There has been quire a bit of litigation in the last few years dealing with attempts to register domain names that contain a registered trademark. When the internet first got started, and domains began to be publicly available for purchase, many people registered domain names of very popular companies in hopes that that company would pay them alot of money to own the domain name or that they would be able to see them for profit. As with anything, this is determined on a case by case basis, however, in general, nearly all of these cases are determined to be trademark violations, and the owners of the domains are required to give the domains to the trademark owners.

Trademarks - Single Site or Folder Names

Trademarks can also occur in other portions of the URL besides the root domain. Directories and file names that contain a trademark name, however, federal court has ruled that this is not a violation because it is mearly a description of the content rather than an attempt to confuse the public. Subdomains, however, when they are displayed in front of the domain can certainly violate trademark laws. In general, as long as the use of the trademark name does not create any confusion as to the source, then there is no violation.