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Type of publication: master thesis
Field of Science: Teisė / Law (S001)
Author(s): Sutkutė, Rūta
Title: Is a trademark holder entitled to the exclusive internet domain rights to domains of his or her trademark or similar?
Other Title: Ar prekių ženklo savininkas įgyja išimtines teises į domeną tapačiu ar panašiu pavadinimu?
Extent: 49 p.
Date: 10-Jun-2011
Keywords: domain;trademark;exclusive rights;domain rights;trademark rights;domenas;prekės ženklas;išskirtinės teisės;domenų teisės;prekės ženklų teisės
Abstract: Domain names are the gateways through which Internet users pass, and as such they have rapidly become valuable for companies. Domain name consists of a series of numbers but since it is difficult for a human being to remember long list of numbers so the domain name system uses letters instead of numbers. Since trademark names have become powerful tool in commerce, every legal entity or individual seeks to have an identical or similar to its trademark domain name. Unfortunately, coexistence between trade-marks and domain names has given rise to many conflicts. Laws involving trademarks are territorial in nature, while domain names have a worldwide presence. An entity attempting to register a domain name has no guarantee that after registering it a trademark holder from any country in the world will not come forward with a domain name dispute suit and force it’s registrant to give up the domain name. Unless the registrant has registered the word used as a domain name and as a trademark in every country of the world, there is no guarantee that the domain name will not be taken from the registrant in a suit brought in a national court or in an international arbitration forums such as the World Intellectual Property Organization, Czech Arbitration Court or others. The domain registry authorities’ don’t check if a new domain doesn’t infringe trademark rights. All of their procedures are carried out on the principle „first come, first served”. Based on the ongoing domain name disputes they tend to fall into four categories: Cyber Squatters; Cyber Parasites; Cyber Twins; and Reverse Domain Name Hijacking. Although all of these disputes have the same roots, they all have its specifics and it is very important to distinguish it in order to prevent domain name disputes or to solve the case and a decision may vary depending on the circumstances of each case. The difficulty of balancing the rights of trademark owners with domain name owners has caused extreme tension between competing interests and proven a major challenge for any countries legal establishment. Trademark rights based on use alone are referred to in the United States as “common law rights,” and are usually limited to the geographical area in which the mark is truly used and the nature of the use. These rights can expand for example by obtaining a federal trademark registration expands these rights. It provides nationwide protection and it also creates a rebuttable presumption of the ownership, legitimacy and exclusive right of use of the mark; and after “incontestable” status is acquired under the Trademark Act, provides a definite presumption of the exclusive right to use of the mark subject to certain statutory defenses. Trademark registration is important because previously registered trademark owner may generally prohibit the use of confusingly similar or identical to those subsequently brought into service, or registered trademarks in United States, Lithuania or European Union. However, it should be noted as an unregistered trademark owner in some cases also may have the same rights as a registered trade mark owner against others. The trademark owner rights are usually defended more than domain name rights in many countries. The aim of this work to find out whether a trademark holder is entitled to the exclusive internet domain rights to domains of his or her trademark or similar. It is very important that the “monopoly” of trademark should be in balance with other constitutional values. For example article 46 of the Constitution of Republic of Lithuania determines that: the law shall prohibit monopolization of production and the market and shall protect freedom of fair competition. Unreasonably granted the monopoly rights to trademarks would infringe fair competition. A registered trademark owner has an exclusive right to prevent all third persons from using in commerce any sign in the case where, because of its identity with, or similarity to, the registered trademark for the identical or similar goods and/or services, there exists a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public, which includes the likelihood of association with the registered trade mark. However this rule doesn’t always apply in every dispute since there are many more circumstances like: legitimate interest, bad faith and many others that should be taken in consideration when deciding who has the right to a domain name. Also trademarks rights monopoly is constrained by its validity terms which mean that the rights of the trademark holder are valid only in the case if the trademark name is being used. Based on the analysis made in this paper by analyzing American, Lithuanian and European Union laws, case law it can be stated that every domain name dispute situation is different and not always the trademark holder is entitled to the exclusive internet domain rights to domains of his or her trademark or similar. By registering a domain name as a trademark name might give the owner more rights against any other third party but no way it guarantees any exclusive rights to a domain name. Many nations of Europe have had cases in their national courts concerning disputes between trademarks and domain names and most of the decisions in European national courts, like the decisions in courts all over the world, have favored the trademark holder over the domain name registrant. Notwithstanding aspirations for a unification of domain name dispute resolution policies internationally, no such unification has yet been achieved. Domain name and trademark disputes can be solved in national courts or by using alternative dispute resolution procedure (hereinafter ADR). Considering that ADR is a cheaper and faster procedure there should be and ADR institution available in every country. Unfortunately not every country in the world has this institution, like for example there is not one in Lithuania at the moment. To avoid so many domain name and trademark owners’ disputes there could be a synchronization of the international body administering the generic top-level domains, like ICANN, and an international agreement between countries to recognize each other's trademarks. There could also be a database of all the trademarks held internationally under the Madrid Agreement as well as all of the trademarks registered nationally within each country of the system so that one could check the trademarks in existence in the United States as well as the countries of the European Union and other parties. By creating such a database a registrar could conduct a search of the trademarks registered within the proposed system. If the requested second level domain name conflicted with a trademark found within the system, the domain name registrant would be prohibited from registering the domain name. In addition, the registrar could notify the trademark holder in each case that its trademark had become the subject of a domain name registration and the trademark holder would be given the chance to register the domain name first. The proposal made only constitutes the preliminary steps needed in order to construct a more efficient, more uniform system to deal with domain name disputes. It is clear that something has to be done in order to provide an easier to use system in which an entity could register a trademark and obtain an internationally legitimate domain name.
Atsiradus internetui domenų vardai buvo sukurti tam, kad palengvintų vartotojams naudojimąsi internetu, kadangi atsiminti įvairias skaičių kombinacijas yra sudėtinga. Kadangi komercinė veikla plečiasi internetinėje erdvėje, todėl ir domenų paklausa auga, ir kiekvienas turėdamas prekės ženklą yra suinteresuotas įsigyti domeną tapačiu ar panašiu pavadinimu. Tačiau, domenų vardai yra unikalūs ir tik vienas domeno vardas gali egzistuoti internetinėje erdvėje, o tapatus prekės ženklas gali egzistuoti keliose valstybėse ar skirtingom prekių ar paslaugų kategorijom. Todėl domenų ir prekių ženklų ginčų vis daugėja. Pagrindinis darbo tikslas yra išsiaiškinti ar prekių ženklo savininkas įgyja išimtines teises į domeną tapačiu ar panašiu pavadinimu. Darbe iškeliama hipotezė, kad prekės ženklo savininkas neįgyja išimtinių teisių į domeną tapačiu ar panašiu pavadinimu. Siekiant atsakyti į užduotą klausimą yra išskiriamos pagrindinės prekių ženklų teisės bei analizuojami pagrindiniai prekių ženklų ir domenų teisių skirtumai. Taip pat didelis dėmesys skiriamas domenų ir prekės ženklų ginčų neteisminiam nagrinėjimui tarptautiniu mastu. Darbo analizė parodė, kad prekės ženklo savininkas turi išimtinę teisę uždrausti tretiesiems asmenims be jo sutikimo komercinėje veikloje naudoti bet kokį žymenį, kuris yra tapatus prekės ženklui tapačioms prekėms ir (ar) paslaugoms; ar klaidinamai į jį panašus ir dėl to yra galimybė suklaidinti visuomenę; ar klaidinamai panašus į jį, jeigu ženklas turi reputaciją ir jeigu dėl neteisėto tokio žymens vartojimo įgyjamas nesąžiningas pranašumas arba pažeidžiamas to ženklo skiriamasis požymis, arba pakenkiama jo reputacijai. Tačiau ši įstatymais suteikta teisė nėra absoliuti, kadangi sprendžiant domenų ir prekių ženklų ginčus vertinama daugelis faktorių, į kuriuos būtina atsižvelgti: ar domenas yra tapatus arba klaidinamai panašus į prekės ženklą; kad atsakovas neturi teisių ar teisėtų interesų į tą domeną ir yra užregistruotas su blogais tikslais. Taigi jeigu prekės ženklo savininkas negalės įrodyti visų įvardintų veiksnių jis neturės jokių teisių į tam tikrą domeną.
Affiliation(s): Vytauto Didžiojo universitetas
Appears in Collections:VDU, ASU ir LEU iki / until 2018

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