Entrepreneurs often confuse company names, domain names and trade marks and are of the mistaken belief that their company name protects their brand, or that the domain name they have registered somehow protects their brand, or worse, that they can get one over on a competitor by registering their brand as a domain name and setting up a competing website.

The fact that you have registered a company name does not automatically mean you have a right to the that name as a trade mark or that you can even use that name on your products or stationery if someone else has registered it as their trade mark.  The Commissioner of Companies does not check whether there is an existing trade mark when registering a company name and, this makes perfect sense when one considers that trade marks are registered in one of the classes and could thus be used for completely different goods or services than the company is trading in.  Similar considerations apply to domain name registrations, however, a registered trade mark and proof of use thereof can assist in objecting to a domain name being used in an abusive manner, for example, to unfairly compete with a trade mark owner and can be grounds for having the domain name transferred to the trade mark owner if not used in a lawful manner.

An entrepreneur should ideally register their trade mark, domain name and company name at the same time to avoid conflicts later.