In the current age of well-developed information technology and global businesses, domain names have gone beyond merely representing the website of different companies on the internet. Domain names have attained the position of being business identifiers and promoters.
Due to the continuous rise of commercial activities on the internet, the importance and usefulness of domain names now include greater publicity for the business.
According to Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, Domain names will continue to appreciate faster than any other goods ever known to man and to a significant extent, the function of domain names can be likened to the functions of a trademark or service mark for these purposes.
A domain name is likened to a physical or territorial address which directs the user to a particular section of the internet and brings to the spotlight the individual’s products and services.
Trademark or Servicemark on the other hand is likened to be any mark that can be represented in a graphical form with the capability of distinguishing a person’s product and services from others which may include varying degrees in specification e.g. the shape of the product, packaging, design, and colour combination. The exclusive right to the trademark is patented by the owner in connection with his goods in order to differentiate them from competition.
Globally, only one organization deals with the registration of domain names as trademarks which is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) together with the national trademarks law and various global international Trademarks Treaties.
For an individual or organisation to register domain names as trademarks, it is expected that the domain fulfils all the necessary conditions that are required to be registered as a trademark. Hence, the domain name must be unique, capable of identifying itself, distinguish itself from the product of competition, and act as a reliable source identifier of concerned goods and services on the internet.
Emphatically, a trademark is often used for the promotion of a product to make it available to potential customers. In addition, a trademark also communicates the essence of a product and the nature of the product as well as the brand name which has become well known over time. For this reason, it makes competitors tempted to trade off their products using the marks of the original owner.
With all these, there is a vital role domain names play in the trade and commercial activity of an organisation on the internet and there are various forms whose objective is trading through online platforms and protection of their domain name is of the essence.