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Whatever the nature and scope of your business, your domain name will represent an essential element of your brand identity. As such, this is also a critical aspect of your intellectual property. Our team of specialist domain name solicitors will offer practical advice and ongoing support, to ensure that your legal rights and the identity of your brand remain fully protected.

The law relating to domain names is a complex area that continues to evolve. A domain name will form part of your intellectual property rights if it involves your unique brand name, and disputes about domain names will often include their registration or how they are used. Registering a domain name gives you the right to prevent another person from registering an identical one. It does not, however, grant the automatic right to stop another individual or business from operating under the same name.

To secure the exclusive right to use that name concerning the products or services associated with your business, you will need to apply for trademark protection, and your intellectual property solicitor can handle this process on your behalf. Even if you do not ask for trademark protection, your domain name and brand identity will still benefit from the concept of goodwill, and you may incur some protection through the laws of passing off.

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If you feel that your rights have been infringed, for example, if someone else has registered a domain name that is identical or very similar to your own company or brand name, the intellectual property experts at Ackroyd Legal will be able to help you. 

This is an area of the law that is continuously developing, and depending on the facts of your case, the Court may order the transfer of the domain name and order the other party to pay you compensation as well as meet your legal costs.

Because of the value that is held within domain names, disputes will often arise, and those who are found to be liable for misuse are commonly known as ‘cybersquatters.’ 

To be a true cybersquatter, it will usually be shown that the individual or company had some knowledge of the wrongdoing that was occurring at the appropriate time. If you do feel that your rights have been infringed in this way, it is essential to seek legal advice, and our intellectual property law experts will be able to help you. 

We will look at precisely what has occurred and identify any evidence that the other party may have acted in bad faith, before advising upon the best course of action in all of the circumstances.

Disputes involving domain names are often resolved using a domain name resolution process, such as the Uniform Dispute Resolution Process, which is entirely separate from bringing a claim for the infringement of your trademark or for passing off. It is worth noting that registering a domain name constitutes an enforceable contract in law; therefore you also agree to be bound by the terms and conditions when you complete the purchase, which is very likely to include the dispute resolution policy.

A domain name dispute resolution process is designed to be quicker and more cost-effective than bringing the matter to Court. If the claimant is successful, then they may have the disputed domain name transferred to them.

In more complex cases of disputes involving domain names, litigation may be the only option. If this is successful, you may be awarded financial compensation known as damages, an account of profits and in some cases the recovery of your legal costs. In very urgent cases, it may be possible to obtain an injunction to prevent the other party from continuing until the matter is resolved.

Whatever the situation, our intellectual property experts will be able to help you. We will provide tailored advice that is specific to the circumstances, and designed to reach the right outcome with minimal impact on your business activities.

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