Domain name and trade mark conflicts

Can a domain name be a trade mark?


Domain names can be registered as trade marks. They are subject to the same rules and standards as all other types of trade marks.

It's important to note that registering a domain name doesn't automatically:

  • make that name a trade mark
  • give you exclusive rights to use and protect that name

Why trade mark a domain name?

There are several reasons why you should consider trade marking your domain name. Trade marks are generally:

  • more valuable than domain names
  • more easily protected, both under common law and statutory protection

Trade marking your domain name will:

  • give you legal rights over the name in the country where the trade mark was granted
  • prevent others from using a similar domain, if this would cause your business disadvantage or disrepute
  • reinforce your brand name and ensure visibility of your business online

Read more about the benefits of trade mark registration and find out how to register a trade mark.

Process of trade marking domain names

To qualify as a trade mark, the domain name must:

  • perform a greater function than simply being an internet address, eg identify that particular business on the market
  • be distinctive as a source of origin of particular goods and services

The name must also be available if you wish to register it as a trade mark. You will need to carry out a clearance search to determine if earlier trade marks exist. See how to search for trade marks.

It must also meet all other requirements for trade mark registration. It will have to be distinctive and sufficiently different from other registered trade marks, and you will have to define all the goods and services you want your trade mark to cover.

Find out more about registering trade marks.