Domain Trademark/Ownership Dispute Issues

  1. Someone else has used my registered trademark (or company name) as a domain name. What are my rights?
  2. I registered someone else's trademark as a domain name. What should I do?
  3. That company's lawyer has sent me a threatening "cease and desist" letter. What do I do?
  4. Where can I go to register a trademark?
  5. How can I be sure that my domain name doesn't infringe on someone else's trademark?
  6. Just who owns my domain name, anyway?


Someone else has used my registered trademark (or company name) as a domain name. What are my rights?

Contact a lawyer. All ICANN-accredited registrars follow a uniform dispute resolution policy, under which disputes over entitlement to a domain name are ordinarily resolved by court litigation between the parties claiming rights to the registration. The registrar will uphold the findings of the court. In disputes arising from registrations allegedly made abusively (such as "cybersquatting" and cyberpiracy"), the uniform policy provides an expedited administrative procedure to allow the dispute to be resolved without the cost and delays often encountered in court litigation. For more details on the uniform dispute resolution policy, please visit the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy at ICANN. In any event, do not act on your own. Consult with a lawyer before anything else. back to top

I registered someone else's trademark as a domain name. What should I do?

If you registered in good faith and intend to use that domain name for a legitimate web site that has nothing to do with that other party's business, it's best to sit quiet and go ahead with your plans, they may not contact you. If you intend to sell it to the trademark owner for profit, DON'T. Approaching them with the domain name is taking the fast track to losing a legal battle. Basically, it's best not to get involved in a trademark dispute. back to top

Okay, but the company's lawyer has sent me a threatening "cease and desist" letter. Now what do I do?

Get professional legal advice. Don't do anything at all until you have talked to a lawyer. You may be in the wrong here, but there's a small chance that you can protect your rights to the name. Don't contact your registrar, chances are the lawyer has already done so, and there's nothing your registrar can do to protect you. Talk to a lawyer. back to top

Where can I go to register a trademark?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has posted TEAS, the Trademark Electronic Application System. TEAS allows you to fill out a form and check it for completeness over the Internet. Using e-TEAS you can then submit the form directly to the USPTO over the internet, making an official filing on-line. Or you can print out the completed form and mail it to the USPTO.

For detailed information about Patents and Trademarks, please visit the USPTO. back to top

How can I be sure that my domain name doesn't infringe on someone else's trademark?

Do a trademark search before you register the domain name. The USPTO has posted the TESS, Trademark Electronic Search System for convenient online searching of trademarks. Please be sure to read the material there. back to top

Just who owns my domain name, anyway?

Much like a phone number, no one can actually "own" a domain name. Legally, you only own a license to use the domain - you do not gain title to it. However, for all practical purposes, the end result is the same. Pay close attention to the "company" or "organization" field when you apply for your domain name, it is this field that determines the "ownership" of the domain. If you do not yet have a company formed or are otherwise not acting as an agent for another organization while registering, we usually recommend that you put your name in this field to avoid possible ownership disputes later on. As long as the name has nothing to do with someone else's trademark or legal right to own the name, you essentially own the domain name that you registered. back to top