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Domain Names

A Domain Name is a quite user-friendly form of an Internet Protocol (IP) address; the technical IP address of this being invisible to the viewers. Addresses to the Internet Web Servers are assigned and managed through the Domain Name System (DNS), the globally distributed internet database administered by ICANN. An example of a domain name is “inta.org”. The name portion of a domain name [here, inta] is called as the Second-Level Name, and this unique and scintillating name is to be created or selected by the domain name applicant. The end portion of a domain name [here, .org] is termed as the Top-Level Domain (TLD); and is further classified into the categories of the Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) and the Country-Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs). Some of the most common and popular categories of the top-level domains are .com; .org; .gov; .net; .in; etc.

Registration as Trademarks

Domain names can also be registered and protected as trademarks or service marks at the national and international levels, provided that the domain names do satisfy all conditions to be duly registered and protected like the trademark and service marks.

For registration of a domain name as a trademark or service mark, this must be unambiguously unique from all other domains names and well-known trademarks on the internet, so that it does not mislead, confuse, or deceive customers of other companies engaged in the same or different fields, or violate public order or morality. Such cases may give rise to instances of trademark infringement litigation.

Global Protection of Domain Names

Trademarks or service marks are provided recognition and protection in only those national and international jurisdictions, where these are properly registered; these may not attain trademark protection worldwide. The domain names as trademarks or service marks are registered and protected at the entire global level supremely by only one organization which is ICANN [Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers], along with the national and international protection under the directly concerned national Trademark Law and diverse International Trademark Treaties of the world. Any national or international trademark law is not fully capable of protecting a domain name in countries of the world over. To meet this vital objective, the ICANN with support of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) prescribed the following two strong and strict measures — a rigorous and censorious system of registration of domain names with accredited registrars [by ICANN]; and an efficient and efficacious dispute resolution policy, named as the Uniform Domain Name Disputes Resolution Policy (UDNDR Policy).

For a dispute resolution under the UDNDR Policy of October 1999, a person or entity may formally complain before the competent administration-dispute-resolution services providers [listed by ICANN under Rule 4(a)], that:

Any specified domain name is very strikingly or confusingly similar to a previously registered domain name or trademark of the complainant. Any accused domain name has been registered, and is blatantly being used in bad faith.

Today, the domain name registrars duly authorized by the ICANN, operate a dispute resolution procedure under the UDNDR Policy, for the purposes of providing efficient and rigorous remedy against bad faith and abusive registration of domain names which violate the trademark rights of the complainants.