Intellectual property rights in cyberspace

Protecting your company with a trade mark gives the owner a title to claim of a “company name”. This works in the domain name industry as well, a trade mark will in most cases cover the owner in obtaining a domain name. A few registry’s will not allow a client to obtain a domain without a trade mark. Reading through IBLS new article covers intellectual property and what rights a owner with a trade mark has.

The United States (“US”) Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (“ACPA”) prohibits the registration of a domain name with the intent to deceive consumers. Political speech even if not agreed with is an important feature of the First Amendment of the Constitution. Speech however that impacts the use of a trademark and would cause consumer confusion and a dilution of the trademark rights of a company and their goodwill is not permitted. The following cases demonstrate that this type of behavior will not be tolerated even if the speech is important to the advancement of ideas.

Trademarks are defined in the US Lanham Act § 45 (15 U.S.C. Section 1127). They are defined as “any word, name, symbol, or device or any combination thereof (1) used by a person or (2) which a person has a bone fide intention to use in commerce and applies to register on the principal register.” Trademarks serve to identify and distinguish the goods including “a unique product, and from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of goods, even if that source is unknown.” Trademarks must either be used in commerce or the applicant must have a bona fide intent to use them in commerce.

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