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Trade Name Law – Domain names

For your reputation
Is the trade name copied or is there an infringement of your domain name? Is there any confusion or is it likely? Fortunately, trade name law protects you. Domain names are often trade names and are protected under the Trade Names Act. Domain names can also be a trademark; in that case, the Benelux or EU trademark law protects your domain name. A trade name is the same as a company name. This text on Trade Name Right – Domain Names will help you.

Trade names are not trademarks. What is the difference? A trade name distinguishes your company. A brand name distinguishes your products or services. Sometimes, however, trade name and trademark correspond. For example, companies like Apple, Randstad or KLM-Air France

Infringements occur regularly offline but more often online. This is related to the use of the trade name as a domain name or advertising search term (e.g. Adwords with Google) on the internet. This facilitates a collision or confusion with third parties, intentionally and unintentionally. The trade name right is a sole right to your company name. The trade name right is attached to your company.

Search for your trade at the Chamber of Commerce: trade name search in the Netherlands or in Belgium or visit the Chambers of Commerce worldwide (online). And check the availability (or name details) of your trade name as NL.domain (SIDN-WHOIS) ) or .COM, .Net, .Org domain (.COM WHOIS). Sometimes it is hidden, but we can also find that out for you.

Increasingly, companies use multiple domain names, one of which is usually the same as their trade name or part thereof. A problem arises when another party uses your trade name and causes confusion. This may be because said other party has, for example, registered your trade name as a domain name or uses it in texts on its website to create additional internet traffic, for example, through Google’s AdWords. Apart from domain ownership, confusion can also be expected in the market. Send an email to info@gravendeeladvocaten.nl or call us, without obligation on +31 (0) 35 62 23 340.

In case of piracy (deliberate imitation), sometimes an identical domain name is used with a different top level domain (TLD): e.g. “.NU” or “.NET or” .ORG”, where your entire website is also copied. Especially e-business entrepreneurs who supply goods are affected by that, often also because the language is Dutch, and thus focused on the Netherlands. In those cases, an approach by a specialised lawyer is required. We also approach the relevant registrar and ICT providers abroad in this regard, and we collaborate with ICT experts who record the virtual footprints through online investigations.

Trade name aspects can also play a role in the transfer of a company: who owns the name and what is it worth? If you want to sell a trade name, you also need to sell the company, or at least part thereof. But does the same apply to a domain name? And how to deal with unregistered but used trade names and vice versa, i.e. the unused trade name that they did have registered. In that case, proof of actual use that refers to the company is important. Trade Name Law is extensively applied to domain names, as is evidenced by the many lawsuits.

Can a company use multiple trade names, irrespective of whether it is a sole proprietorship or a B.V. [private limited company]? Who owns the trade name of the partnership or v.o.f. [general partnership] that has broken up? Can domain names also infringe on your brand or slogan? The legislation and case law on this matter soon becomes complex.

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