The Patent Office is clamping down on the use of domain names as trade marks after a spate of attempts to register domain names including famous brand trade marks.
Recent class actions have involved companies attempting to register domain names such as virgin.co.uk, cadbury.co.uk and marks&spencer.co.uk but with the aim being to sell those trade marks back to the companies.
Allan James, a trade mark registry hearings officer, revealed that one company, One in a Million, had an injunction against it due to such an infringement. The company was banned from trading.
The other reason for issuing guidelines was due to a number of companies legitimately attempting to register their domain names as trade marks to protect them.
The Patent Office outlined that as long as the root of the domain name was distinctive to the company's business, it can be registered and protected by law.
A representative of trade mark registry said: 'If you are wondering if a domain name may infringe an existing trade mark, take away bits such as www. and .com and look at what's left. If it is unlike any existing trade mark you are in the clear. If it looks like someone else's mark it may be an infringement.'
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