Josephson Litigation Counsel

Business litigation: Protecting domain names

The internet has developed into a primary source of marketing for many businesses. Domain names are important marketing assets, and laws and regulations are in place to regulate related matters in British Columbia and across Canada. Sometimes disputes arise that require resolution through business litigation.

Domain names are addresses of websites. Like the physical address of a business, they guide visitors to a company's online entity. Domain names are protected in a similar way to the protection offered for trademarks. They must be registered and no other business may register the same domain name. Domain names in Canada typically end in .ca. Foreign companies with a business presence here can protect their Canadian market by registering a .ca domain in addition to the one registered in their country.

Disputes about domain names may arise when one business registers the same, or similar, name as another company. These names are protected under the Canadian Trade-marks Act. This law also protects business designs, logos and other intellectual property.

Many issues can be resolved by sending the offender a cease-and-desist letter. Other times, mediation or arbitration can resolve domain name disputes. Business owners who discover another website using their domain name or another trademark may benefit from the services of an experienced business law lawyer who can assist in resolving the matter through alternative dispute resolution methods. However, if it is not possible to craft a suitable out-of-court solution, the lawyer can initiate litigation to protect the rights of the business owner.

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