If you want to stay out of trouble because of the domain name you have chosen, you must be very careful to avoid trademark infringements. Trademarks are names that identify the source of products or services and are protected under federal and state laws. According to the trademark law, one trademark legally conflicts with another when the use of both of them is likely to confuse customers about the products or services, or their sources.
You can lose a registered domain name if the owner of an existing trademark is able to convince a judge or arbitrator that your use of the name is likely to confuse customers as to the source or quality of the product or service. However, customer confusion can arise only if a domain name similar to the one you want to register is a protected trademark and it must be distinctive in order to be protected. Distinctiveness arises if a name is made up (e.g. kambo.com for an online software store), fanciful (e.g. ragingbear.com for investment advice), arbitrary in the context of its use (e.g. apple.com for computer products), or suggestive of the underlying product or service (e.g salon.com for an online magazine).
A domain name is not eligible for trademark protection if it uses surnames, geographical names or common words that describe some aspects of the goods or services sold on the site (e.g. healthinfo.com for online health information), unless the owner can demonstrate distinction through considerable amount of sales and advertising. It can also be said to be distinctive if the owner has been able to register a name with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office. Generic domain names - that describe whole categories of products and services - can never be trademarks, e.g. drugs.com, tea.com and business.com.
Consequently, it is very essential for you to search as many trademarks as possible before registering your domain name. You can visit the database of the U.S Patent and Trademark Office at www.uspto.gov to get access to registered trademarks and those that are pending registration. You can also search the internet at large and any business name register, e.g Thomas Register Online at www.thomasregister.com, for any conflicting name with the one you want to register.
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