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9 steps to protect your domain and trademark online

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Because the freedom of the internet conflicts with the territorial nature of trademark law, it is likely that most trademark owners, and most domain name registrants, will become involved in a domain name dispute.  Whether your business is the owner of a mark or a domain name, there are steps you can take to protect your property.

Protect your marks:
  1. Register your trade and service marks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  2. Once you have established rights in a mark, police the internet for its use by others.  The more the mark is used by others, the weaker it becomes.
  3. Register the domain names that correspond to: your name, your trade and service marks, common misspellings of your name and marks, yourtrademarksucks.com, and yourbusinesssucks.com.
  4. When communicating with registrants of domains containing your mark(s), use appropriate tone.  If the registrant is fairly using the mark, the only way to obtain the domain is via agreement with the registrant.
  5. Prior to selecting a panelist for a UDRP proceeding, check panelist track records at www.icann.org.  Keep in mind that statistics show that, in an overwhelming majority of cases, the decisions handed down by single panelists favored the complainant.

Protect your domain names:
  1. Register only domains in which you have a legitimate interest.
  2. When in receipt of a cease and desist letter, buy time to research the domain name by responding with a letter acknowledging receipt and advising the sender that you are investigating the matter and will contact them in due time.
  3. If a UDRP complaint is filed against you, respond with more than a naked denial.  Attempt to demonstrate facts that evidence your rights or legitimate interest in the domain or that you are not using it in bad faith.  Useful facts include: you are not a competitor of the complainant, you have not tried to sell the domain to the complainant or anyone else, you are not making trademark use of the word or phrase in which the complainant has trademark rights, and the word or phrase is common.
  4. Keep in mind number (5), above. 

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