What's in a name? Domain names can be worth a lot of money. At one point, during the heady days of the domain name gold rush, USA Today and GreatDomains.com (a site that has "millions" of domain names for sale) reported that the following domain names sold for these prices:
Price ($US millions)
At one point in time, the domain name america.com was being offered for sale for $15,000,000.00 (USD). Currently, "premium" domain names such as outlook.com and team.com are more modestly priced, being offered for sale for $500,000 and $250,000 (USD) respectively.
Obviously, companies attribute tremendous value to the ability to have their trade marks reflected in a domain name and they want to have the investment in their trade marks protected. Because of the perceived value in being able to use a trade mark as a domain name, a body of domain name law which is based largely on trade mark law has developed to protect this interest. Increasingly, trade mark owners are turning to the courts and alternate dispute resolution mechanisms in order to secure and protect domain names. Trade mark law not only serves as the foundation for domain name dispute resolution, it also operates to protect the rights of trade mark owners and to resolve other types of crashes on the information highway.
Trade marks enable consumers to identify the source of wares or services. Trade mark law protects the goodwill a trade mark owner has developed in a trade mark as an indicia of source. Since the source of wares or services can be obscured and the goodwill earned by a company can be eroded by online activities such as cyberjacking, meta-tagging, framing and linking, trade mark law is invoked to protect against these problems. Although the U.S. has passed specific new legislation to protect online identities, in Canada, trade mark law remains the principle means for protecting one’s good name on the Internet.