Securing Your Digital Identity: Safeguarding Domain Names under Intellectual Property Rights

Posted On - 10 July, 2023 • By - King Stubb & Kasiva


Domain names serve as essential keywords that distinguish web servers and provide a memorable, comprehensive, and user-friendly identity for websites. They act as identifying factors for data locations on the internet, facilitating the search for specific web addresses.

The importance of domain names stems from the need for businesses to establish a distinct identity and create a robust online presence. The Domain Name System (DNS) plays a crucial role in forming unique domain names.

The Importance of Protecting Domain Names

The significance of domain names should not be underestimated, as they play a crucial role in safeguarding a business’s online presence from unauthorized infringement while enhancing its identity. In many ways, a domain name can be equated to a trademark for a business.

A well-defined domain name not only enhances the security and profitability of a business but also offers numerous other benefits. Therefore, it becomes essential to establish proper protection for both trademarks and domain names. Additionally, a domain name allows business owners to stake their electronic territory, ensuring it remains exclusive and inaccessible to others.

The Advantages of Registering a Domain Name as a Trademark:

  • Protection against Unauthorized Usage: Similar to how a trademark or service mark promotes and safeguards a brand name, a registered domain name enables its owner to prevent unauthorized or unlawful use.
  • Enhanced Brand Value: Trademarks contribute to enhancing and maintaining the reputation and value of a business. Similarly, a domain name facilitates increased accessibility to a business from around the globe.
  • Prominence in the Marketplace: Trademarks or service marks add prominence to the products or services associated with the owner in the marketplace. In comparison, a domain name helps deliver products or services worldwide, expanding their reach in the market.

Domain Name Protection under Indian Law:

According to Indian law, individuals and business entities have the right to seek protection for their newly created domains throughout the country under the Trade Marks Act of 1999 and the Trade Marks Rules of 2002, including any subsequent amendments. Once a domain name is registered, the domain holder gains the legal authority to take decisive action against any unlawful infringement related to the registered or protected domain within the jurisdiction of the country. This empowers domain owners to pursue rigorous legal measures against any unauthorized or illegal activities that violate their rights.

The Supreme Court of India has extensively deliberated on the classification of domain names as a form of protected intellectual property under trademarks. Several court judgments have shaped this stance, including the following notable cases:

  • Satyam Infoway Ltd. v. Siffynet Solutions (2004):
    This groundbreaking case in 2004 addressed the question of whether domain names can be granted trademark protection. The Supreme Court acknowledged that the Trade Marks Act of 1999 is applicable to domain names, provided they meet all the essential requirements of a trademark. The court recognized the dilemma faced by users when distinguishing between similar-sounding domain names, which can lead to confusion and harm the owner’s business, market share, and goodwill. Consequently, the courts paved the way for the registration of domain names as intellectual property rights.
  • Rajat Agarwal v. Spartan Online (2017):
    In this recent case, the esteemed High Court of Calcutta emphasized the need for a domain name to be distinct from others, thereby establishing a unique brand identity. The court recognized domain names as instruments of commercial enterprise, serving to identify and distinguish the business itself, its goods, services, and specific locations.

These judicial rulings have contributed to the legal landscape regarding the registration and protection of domain names as trademarks in India.

Procedure for Registering a Domain Name

The registration process for a domain name commences with the selection of a desired domain name, followed by submission to the registrar of trademarks. Mandatory information to be provided along with the domain name includes:

  • Desired terms of the domain name.
  • Payment-related details.
  • Personal information of the domain registrant, including name, address, and company details if applicable.

Upon furnishing this information to the registrar, the domain registration process begins. The registrar then files the information on the master server. If no objections are raised, the domain name is registered in the name of the applicant, thus establishing it as the specific intellectual property of the holder.


The significance of domain names extends beyond mere names; they serve as exclusive addresses for conducting business activities. Therefore, it is imperative not to underestimate the importance of protecting them. Domain names also embody a company’s goodwill, making their protection from cybersquatting or trafficking crucial under trademark laws.

Safeguarding domain names not only grants the holder exclusive control over their online identity but also acts as a catalyst for business expansion. In today’s era of technological advancement, protecting domain names becomes indispensable for safely undertaking business growth and ensuring a strong digital presence.


How do I protect my domain name in IPR?

The domain names as trademarks or service marks are registered and protected at the entire global level supremely by only one organization which is ICANN [Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers], along with the national and international protection under the directly concerned national Trademark Law.

How are domain names protected?

Some businesses use their registered trademarks as domain names. Thus, once a domain name is chosen, the holder can apply to obtain trademark protection for the domain name to prevent any third party from using the name. In the absence of a particular law governing domain names, the Trademark Law applies for the same.

Is a domain name a form of intellectual property protection?

At its core, a domain name is not intellectual property. As the address where people find you online, domains can be categorized as IP when certain conditions are met, but they do not inherently have intellectual property rights.

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