Domain names and work titles

The mere use of a domain name or a work title in the trade may give rise to mark rights as a so-called business designation. Vice versa, this also means that domain names or work titles may infringe other marks, such as trademarks, company names and other domain names and work titles.

However, a mark right does not arise by the mere registration of a domain (without content). Vice versa, an unused domain, apart from a few exceptions (e.g., domain grabbing), usually does not infringe any other mark rights. Caution is required, however, with parked domains that contain links or advertising from third parties; this may infringe other marks!

In a domain dispute, a dispute entry against a dedomain which must be applied for at DENIC [German Network Information Center] and based on one’s own mark right prevents this domain from being transferred to third parties by its holder. If the domain is deleted by the domain holder, it will then be transferred to the party in whose favor the dispute entry was made. However, it should be noted that the deletion of a domain can only be ordered by a court under narrow conditions. An unjustified dispute entry can also give rise to a claim for rectification against the applicant.

National and international arbitration proceedings are also available against domain registrations filed in bad faith, as an alternative to civil court actions for cancellation. The best-known arbitration proceedings, which are also conducted at WIPO, are governed by the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) which applies to the most important generic TLDs such as .com, .org, .net, .info, .biz, .name, .pro, .jobs, .asia, .aero, .museum, .mobi, .travel, etc. Some countries have also adopted these regulations for their national TLDs, but not Germany for .de domains.

Title protection notices enable to secure the priority of work titles – even before the use of the title is started – provided that the title is then used within 6 months. Contrary to what the name suggests, the title protection notice alone does not constitute a work title right, the latter requiring the use of the title. An accompanying trademark application may therefore be useful.

We can offer you comprehensive services in the field of securing and defending domain and work title rights, in particular:

  • Domain and work title searches
  • Applications for work title protection in title protection gazettes
  • Issuance of warning letters because of domain or work title infringements and defense against such warning letters
  • Requests for domain dispute entries
  • Conducting domain arbitration proceedings, in particular, against domains filed in bad faith
  • Representation in infringement proceedings before civil courts, including the deposit of protective letters in the event of impending preliminary injunctions