TMEP 1215.02: Use as a Mark

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1215.02    Use as a Mark

Generally, when a trademark, service mark, collective mark, or certification mark is composed, in whole or in part, of a domain name, neither the beginning of the URL ("http://www.") nor the gTLD has any source-indicating significance. Instead, those designations are merely devices that every Internet site provider must use as part of its address. Advertisements for all types of products and services routinely include a URL for the website of the advertiser, and the average person familiar with the Internet recognizes the format for a domain name and understands that "http," "www," and a gTLD are a part of every URL.

However, in 2011, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") authorized the launch of a program to introduce new gTLDs. Some of the gTLDs under consideration may have significance as source identifiers. To the extent that some of the new gTLDs under consideration comprise existing registered trademarks or service marks that are already strong source identifiers in other fields of use, some of the premises mentioned above may no longer hold true for such gTLDs (e.g., a gTLD consisting of a coined mark is not an abbreviation of an entity type or class of intended user of domain space). Where the wording following the "." or "dot" is already used as a trademark or service mark, the appearance of such marks as a gTLD may not negate the consumer perception of them as source indicators. Accordingly, in some circumstances, a gTLD may have source-indicating significance. See TMEP §1215.02(d)─1215.02(d)(iv) (mark consisting of a gTLD for domain-name registry operator and registrar services, where the wording following the "." or "dot" is already used as a trademark or service mark, may be registrable).