Startups Beware! Do You Really Own Your Domain Names?

Startups Beware! Do You Really Own Your Domain Names?

Some time ago, at Quickcompany.in, one of my startup mate managed to get a funding of INR 30 Mn. To my surprise, out of that fund, they wanted to invest almost 30% on their brand development which included buying a premium domain and running a marketing campaign for their logo so as to be able to get their name out in the market.

They had bought a .in domain by spending more than half a million without getting the trademark registered in India and surprisingly they forgot to read the by laws prescribed by the .in registry in order to use the domain and the purpose why .in has been parked.

Little did they know that their precious domain could be taken away from them anytime if they didn’t hold a registered trademark for the same!

Let us understand what could be the worst case if you forgot to safeguard this intellectual property or to read the by-laws prescribed by the .in registry:

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Brand Protection for Startups

Domain names have now become much more than a mere representation of the websites of different companies on the Internet. In today’s age, startups in India, first try to create their web identity by buying premium domains and then these startups end up shelling out big bucks on marketing their brand.

But most startups forget the expenditure on securing their brand or web identity in India.

After talking to my friend, Danish, the founder of a domain reselling website website that sells domains and hosting to their customers, we got quite a lot of information.

What Do Domain Hosting Companies Suggest?

According to Danish, this brand protection case is applicable with .in domains only and not with other category domains. Why only .in? He explains to us that the main purpose of .in registry is to give .IN domain, which represents the unique symbol of India. These domains are treated as the asset for the Indian registry and also, we can’t compare this it with other domains like .com or .net or any other registry domains as they are not linked with any nation’s integrity.

Most of the owners we talk to, their view is that they have booked the domain and are running their website with ease. Who can take their identity away from them?

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Grounds on which Dispute of Ownership of Domain file with .in Registry

The .in registry has given on their site the grounds under which they accept the dispute:

” (i) If the domain name is similar to registered trademark or service mark.

(ii) If the domain user  has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and

(iii) the Registrant’s domain name has been registered or is being used in bad faith. “

In respect of these disputes, one can file the dispute with the registry by paying the required fees assigned by the registry.

Benefits of getting a name Trademarked

If somebody says that getting a trademark registered is waste of money and time, then they surely would not know what benefits a registered trademark gives:

–  It helps in securing the identity of the trade name in the market , that no one can copy it and use the same.

– It helps in securing the domain name of the company as discussed above.

– Although by registering trademarks, one can use the same name if he/she wants to open a separate legal entity.

Conclusion

This information is shared only to shed some awareness among entrepreneurs. It is essential for every brand owner to have their name trademarked, buying a domain is not enough. We at Quickcompany.in, register trademarks from all over India and have seen a variety of cases where many have lost their domains and identity because they failed to get a trademark!

Note: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views held by Inc42, its creators or employees. Inc42 is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.

Author

Agam Gupta

Community
Agam Gupta is practicing Chartered accountant. Also, a co-founder of Hubco.in
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