Securing your own domain name is an important step in promoting your business. However, before you register it, it’s important to be aware of the legal risks that come with domain names. Checking that your domain name doesn’t impact upon someone else’s IP is the first step.

Registered Domain Name

A domain name is not just a website URL like www. The domain name also covers the email address as well. In other words, a domain name is an address, whether this is a webpage or an email. If you have a registered domain it means you can host your own website on that domain. A business can register for a .com.au domain name as long as they provide their ABN or ACN. However, registering your domain name will not provide you with any intellectual property rights.

Liability

The order in which you create your domain name matters. The first step should be to register the business name before the domain name. When you register a business name it gives you the opportunity to check if that name is closely related or if another business already has it. An additional step of IP protection to take would be to search your business name and variations of it on the trademark tool. A business shouldn’t go ahead with a domain name without checking if they can first legally use the business name.

IP protection

The IP protection that a business would generally apply for in this case is a trademark. This provides protection for businesses as it stops unauthorised use of the trademark. One thing to be aware of is a legal but useless trademark. The ™ symbol can actually be added to products and used for marketing. These trademarks are legally useless as they provide no IP protection. If you register a trademark and maintain it then you can use the ® symbol. This means other brands and businesses can’t use what you have trademarked. However, to use the ® symbol without actually registering the trademark is illegal.

Conclusion

A trademark is a great way to add protection to your domain name. Therefore, going through the steps to ensure you don’t infringe others IP rights will also make for a smoother process. Then as time progresses and your brand grows, you will be thankful that you took the time in the beginning.

Have more questions? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.

Justin Pasqualino

Justin is a legal intern at LawPath as part of the content team. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Economics at UTS.