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Things to consider when choosing a domain name for your business

You have a new business. You decided on a name. You've run a trademark search to make sure that it isn't already claimed. Now you have to select a domain name for your website. Just because the name of your business hasn't already been trademarked doesn't mean that it's not being used as a domain name by someone.

When considering a domain name or a business name, remember that it doesn't have to be identical to another name to cause confusion and possibly be an infringement on someone else's trademark. For example, if your last name is Duncan and you start a donut business, calling it Duncan's Donuts would likely be considered an infringement on Dunkin' Donuts' trademark.

When you come up with a domain name you like, the first thing to do is to make sure it's not taken — and then lock it down. You can find all registered trademarks in the United States Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) online database. Search not just the precise domain name you have in mind, but also similar names, names that sound the same and possible misspellings.

If you find a business with the same domain name you're considering or a similar one, consider the following:

  • Is it a well-known company?
  • Does it offer similar services or products as yours?
  • Does it use the same or similar distribution channels as you?

You don't want customers looking for your site to end up at another site if you can avoid it. Another company isn't going to be happy if customers looking for them end up on your site by mistake. As noted, that's primarily an issue only if you're in the same business.

Trademark law can be complicated. Business people can't be expected to understand it completely. However, you don't want to make a misstep that could cost you in fines and/or legal penalties. You also want to protect your own trademarks from infringement. An experienced Florida trademark attorney can provide you with valuable guidance as you get your business off the ground.

Source: FindLaw, "Avoiding Domain Name Trademark Infringement," accessed May 11, 2018

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