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Can an Internet domain name function as and be registered as a trademark?Also, can I be liable for trademark infringement for using my Internet domain name?
The answer to both of these questions is yes. An Internet domain name can function as a trademark when it is being used to identify goods or services in the marketplace. For example, the Internet domain name www.acme.com functions as a trademark when it is used as a website marketing a product, but does not function like a trademark when it only displays family photos of the Acme family and does not market or sell a product.
As long as a domain name is being used as a trademark in that it identifies the source of a product, it can be registered with the USPTO. Simply registering your domain name through a registrar (such as Network Solutions or register.com) does not mean that the domain name is protected as a trademark.
Because a domain name can function as a trademark, it can also make the owner liable for trademark infringement. Consequently, before using/adopting an Internet domain name, a trademark search should be conducted to determine whether another party may have superior trademark rights.