Domain name and trade mark conflicts

Relationship between trade mark and domain name


Domain names and trade marks can sometimes seem similar, although they are entirely different things.

Difference between domain name and trade mark

Often a business will use its business name, brand name or another business identifier as its domain name. However, unlike trade marks, domain names are:

  • global
  • unique by nature
  • can't be shared between two websites

Registering a domain name doesn't automatically give you any rights over the matching trade mark. You can only gain this right by registering your domain name as a trade mark.

Trade mark vs domain name

Here's a quick look at the differences between domain names and trade marks.

Details Domain name Trade mark
What is it? A domain name is a unique string of letters that is a part of an internet address. It is common for a domain name to be the same or similar to a trade mark or a business name. A trade mark is any sign which can tell apart your goods and services from those of your competitors. See what is a trade mark.
What is it used for? Domain names are used to locate and bring users to a specific website or place on the internet. A trade mark is used to identify and distinguish your goods or services in the marketplace.
Do I need to register it? Yes. You can submit a registration to any ICANN-accredited registrar. No, but it in most cases it would be wise to do so. Read about the benefits of trade mark registration.
Why should I register it? Registering a domain name gives you exclusive rights to use that domain for the duration of the licence period. You can protect a registered trade mark by law. Read about protecting registered trade marks.
Does it expire? Yes. You can agree the expiration term when buying the domain and renew indefinitely (subject to paying renewal fees on time). Yes. UK registered trade marks last ten years, after which you can renew your trade mark registration.

You will only be able to register a domain name if it hasn't already been used by someone else. Avoid registering a domain name that uses or is similar to a competitor's brand name or trade mark, as this can lead to disputes.

In most cases, trade marking a domain name can help protect your business' identity, reputation and profit. Find out if you can register a domain name as a trade mark.