Potential legal issues with trademarks and domain names

On Behalf of | May 23, 2022 | Business Formation & Planning

When someone is considering starting a new business in Oregon, a plan must be executed and numerous issues resolved before the dream becomes a reality. Choosing a URL or domain name for a website is an integral component of the startup phase in business. Most businesses have at least one website; in fact, some business owners operate solely online. If someone chooses a domain name that is similar to a registered trademark or other domain name, legal issues may arise.  

Ways to avoid legal trouble when choosing a domain name 

One of the easiest ways to help avoid legal problems when choosing a domain name is to conduct a trademark search ahead of time. If any word or phrase in the prospective name is already a registered trademark, it is best to put the thinking cap back on and choose a new domain name. Even if a word or phrase is not exactly like a registered trademark but might confuse customers or make them think it is something other than what it is, the registered trademark owner might consult a lawyer to send a cease-and-desist letter. 

A good question to ask when considering word phrases for a domain name is whether someone shopping online might use a specific phrase to search for products or services of another known brand. If it is likely, then it might be best to reword the name. If a business owner believes that someone has infringed upon his or her registered trademark, an official letter may be sent to inform the individual or business of the trademark infringement and to demand that use of the domain name cease immediately.  

What if a cease-and-desist letter does not produce the desired results? 

Sending someone a cease-and-desist letter does not guarantee that the recipient of the letter will comply and stop using a domain name. When this is the case, it is not uncommon for litigation to be the next step that a business owner whose trademark rights have been infringed upon takes. Anyone considering filing this type of lawsuit can build a strong case by seeking support from an attorney who is well-versed in Oregon business laws before heading to court.