Is having the .com enough to secure a trademark?

.com TM

No.  Absolutely not.  

Since I get asked this question quite often by very smart people, I figure it’s time to dispel this particular myth.  Securing the .com for the brand name you’re targeting is not enough to secure trademark rights in that brand.  Sure, you’ve got the domain name, but let’s discuss what you haven’t got.

Availability as a Brand:  Having nabbed the .com does not mean the brand name itself is actually available for your product or service. Someone else could have already established rights in this brand without ever needing to grab the domain name.  Let’s look at a hypothetical.  You secure the domain name www.daffodilsattack.com for your new iPhone game.  However, you didn’t think to check Steam to see if someone else was selling a game with the same name.  Turns out Big Corp Studio is already selling Daffodils Attack as a brand new RPG.  You get a cease and desist letter from Big Corp Studio, who thinks you bought the domain name in hopes of getting $$$ from BCS.  Mayhem ensues.  

Just because the .com/.co/.whatever is available doesn’t mean that you’re free to run with the name.  Always conduct a clearance search of relevant databases (USPTO, internet, etc.) to make certain you’re the first one to the party.

Rights in the Brand:  Check out www.daffodilsattack.com.  Nothing but a landing page.  This lack of content means that you having presented the necessary elements to turn Daffodils Attack website into a brand: words + goods = source.  You’ve got the words, but no goods to attach to them, and no indication of who you are so that consumers know you’re behind Daffodils Attack.  Trademarks are source identifiers.  Words are just words.

Questions?  Contact me at ashley@emberip.com.

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