Iowa Intellectual Property Blog

What is a domain name?
Jan. 17, 2012The Dickinson Law Newsroom, Iowa Intellectual Property Blog
What is a domain name?

A domain name is like a home address only on the Internet.  It represents an Internet Protocol (IP) resource and serves as a humanly-memorable name for Internet participants. An important function of domain names is to provide easily recognizable and memorizable names to numerically addressed Internet resources.

Domain names are organized in sub-domains. The first-level set of domain names are the top-level domains (TLDs), including the generic top-level domains (gTLDs), such as the prominent domains com, net and org, and the country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). Below these top-level domains are the second-level and third-level domain names that are typically open for reservation by end-users who want to connect local area networks to the Internet, create other publicly accessible Internet resources or run websites. The registration of these domain names is usually administered by domain name registrars who sell their services to the public.

Domain names and trademark law can intersect when a domain name is confusingly similar to a registered or common law trademark. If a website operates using a domain name that contains another entity’s trademark, this may be considered trademark infringement if the domain name is likely to confuse consumers and subject the domain name owner to liability.

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