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DOMAIN NAMES

All computers or websites on the Internet have an Internet Protocol address. Alphanumeric identities (domain names), which are easy to remember, are used to reach an IP address. Thus domain names refer to a particular IP address. Domain names are registered in generic top level domains (gtld) e.g. .com .or or in country code top level domains (ccTLD) such as . ch (Switzerland), .fr (France) or .in (India).

Domain names have over the years become business identifiers and are now in variance with the system of business identifiers that existed before the Internet. Domain names are being commercially exploited. Since, the Internet is fast becoming a platform for commercial activities. Domain names have the same significance as a trademark or the business name of a company. Domain names have over the years become business identifiers and are now in variance with the system of business identifiers that existed before the Internet. The utilization of same or similar domain name may lead to diversion of users which could result in users confusing one domain name for another. Usually consumers/users wanting to surf a new website for using the p[lfunction provided in that website may get confused if they arrive at a website similar in name but with different functions.

Scince this medium is susceptible to attack from domain infringement and cyber squatting. Therefore, a corporate entity needs to protect its trademark and other intellectual property from illegal exploitation on the Net.

In India if there is an infringement of a domain name one can proceed on the position that the trademark and intellectual property have been infringed or on the ground of passing off. Injunction on the ground that there is possibility of confusion in the mind of the common public or end users of the domain name has been held to be justified.

Many companies have followed defensive registration under many domain extensions. However this has not been found to be an effective remedy against misspelt and deceptively similar marks.

The best remedy seems to be to acquire a trademark registration of the domain. A registered trademark is prima facie proof of ownership of trademark.

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is a non-profit organization in charge of IP address space allocation, Protocol assignment and DNS management. ICANN policy includes on-line arbitration by National Arbitration Forum or WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) Arbitration and Mediation Centre. The proceedings have duration of 45 days and are conducted online.

The expenses involved are a tiny proportion as compared to litigation in ordinary courts.