Domain Name Offers Incomplete But Valuable Protection
The United States Patent & Trademark Office reported that it examined a record 323,527 trademark applications in fiscal year 2007. Compare this to 2006, when it reported examining 275,790 applications, a 9% jump from 2005. But filing a trademark registration application can be expensive and time consuming. And while there's no substitute for a federal trademark registration, here's a tip. Whether you own the registration or not, it pays to purchase the domain name that corresponds to the brand name or slogan used to identify your products and services.
For example, earlier this month, I featured Shower Steamers on Indie Business TV. Shower Steamers, made by Indie Beauty Network member cerise, are golf ball sized bath fizzies that, when placed in a warm shower, dissolve and release aromatherapy essences to the air. Because the name Shower Steamers is short, catchy and memorable, it serves as a clever brand name for the product. When I discovered that cerise did not own the showersteamers.com domain name, I contacted the owner and suggested she consider buying and pointing it to the website page where Shower Steamers are sold.
I'm happy to say that the owner heeded this advice. Now, if a person hears about Shower Steamers product, but does not know where to buy them online, they can simply put showersteamers.com into their Web browser and go right to the page and start stocking up. It's not a substitute for a trademark registration, but at least it makes the product easier to find online. Additionally, as long as cerise owns the domain name, no one can start selling a competing product using it.
Of course my suggestion to cerise and the information in this post is not legal advice. It's just smart business to reserve the domain name that corresponds to the name used to brand or describe any product you sell, even if that name is not also your corporate business name. Still, there is no substitute for the advice of a skilled attorney so if you have questions about your particular situation, contact one.
What About You?
Have you reserved domain names that correspond to the most popular or profitable products you sell? If so, drop your link in the comments here and I'll be happy to send some serious Link Love your way.