You wish to set your site so for this first you get a good domain name, and a good web developer built your website, you do some basic SEO leads to display your site in top search engine results, thereby bring more customers and revenue. In all, everything is going very smoothly, and suddenly something happens which you do not expect as you are unaware of the same. A "cease and desist" letter received by you, also known as an "infringement letter."
1. Infringement Letter and Infringement Trademark mean
An infringement letter is a letter which is sent by a lawyer to those who are involved in some 'illegal' activity and to refrain them from doing the same.
Sometimes, not intentionally, a wrong domain name is purchased which may create trouble for you. On the existing trademark, If your domain name infringes, you may loose your entire domain with all your time, money and efforts spent on the building off site in court.
The concept of an Infringement trademark can be understood with the help of an example. Suppose your company manufacture soft drinks. And apparently, you don’t call it “Pepsi.” As Pepsi is a brand which is trademarked and it has potential to sue. It is possible that you order a soft drink at a hotel or restaurant and you receive a drink which is not Pepsi. So, if there is a similar domain name, then you can register the same for your sites domain name.
2. Why does using a trademark in my domain name illegal?
Using a brand in my domain name is considered as illegal as your products and services are misrepresented potentially. If a person accesses your website with this thought that he is accessing the site of a company, by whom trademark is owned in your domain name, he may understand, that he bought products from that company. And this leads to the confusion. It may exist when the trademark is directly built in your domain. However, domain names which are recognized as they belong to some other company may infringe copyright.
3. Avoiding trademark disputes
Domain names which are simple and easy to remember are most likely to be trademark protected. And domain can be also under trademark protection, if itself has been used before.
4. How can I know for certain if a domain name infringes a trademark?
To know this, you have to put some little efforts which result in saving time and frustration which may be faced by you at the end. In countries such as the United Kingdom, users got permission from government site gov.uk to search terms to know if they are protected. Same as in the United States, there is an office of U.S. Patent and Trademark which offers you the facility of searching. In Europe, a search tool is offered by the European Union to achieve the same goal. However, if you are planning to invest on a large scale in a website, then making payment to professional Intellectual Property lawyers. So they can search for you to establish if you face any issue or problems when you start trading out of your country in which you are living, may prove sage.
5. Come on is this for real?
Maybe some of you don’t believe this. So, I’ll like to share an incident with you all. At the beginning of 2015, one of my knowns was engaged in a trademark dispute which includes a particular academic test conducted for students who are studying in the United States. That person counted sites and figures out a number as 789 along with domain names including that particular word which he thought to be used in his domain name. In fact, he was lucky also as he got a domain which involves country name in which he is currently operating. But a country in which he was living tests representatives registered name contains term and name of his country both. Their trademark was registered by them several years ago which results in Infringement Letter sent to him and giving him the duration of 7 days to prevent him from using website.
6. What if I ignore an 'Infringement Letter'?
If you ignore an Infringement Letter, you will be in great trouble. There is an organization is known as “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, who handle overseeing issues arise in a context of domains. They are having a policy "Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy" which decides the action to be taken in a context of names under dispute. If an owner of a disputed name cannot be traced, ICANN ultimately has the power to convene an arbitration panel and to decide whether domain name will be given to the owner of trademark or not and most of the time it happens.
If Infringement Letter is ignored by you, then you may end up in court, or your domain name will be taken from you.