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Trademark and Domain Name Basics


What is a trademark?
A trademark is a name or logo used by a company to identify its goods or services. For example, eBay® is the name of our company, but it is also a trademark used on our site and on various eBay products. Coca Cola® is a trademark used in the sale of soft drinks. Many trademarks are registered, but a trademark need not be registered for an owner to protect it. Trademark laws are primarily designed to protect consumers from confusing one company's goods or services with those of another.

What is trademark infringement?
Trademark infringement usually involves using someone's trademark on a good or service in a way that may confuse others about the source or affiliation of the goods or services. For example, if a seller unauthorized by or unaffiliated with Nike® sells sports clothes called "Nikestuff," the seller is probably infringing Nike’s trademark. There are other ways to infringe a trademark, including registering domain names that are substantially similar to the name of a trademark owner.

Domain names and trademark infringement
A domain name is an address that is used for identifying and locating web pages on the Internet (for example, www.ebay.ca and www.ebaymotors.com). Many companies register domain names that contain their trademarks. For example, eBay owns www.ebay.ca. The Coca Cola Company owns www.cocacola.com and www.coke.com. Read more information on eBay domain names.

If a person operates a website using a domain name that contains someone else's trademark (for example, "www.nikestuff.com"or www.jacknicklaus.com), people who see or visit that domain name are likely to be confused and believe that the site is affiliated with Nike when it is not. People may also mistakenly go to this website thinking it's connected with the other company, only to find out that it is not. Intentional misspellings of and similarities to trademarked names (for example, www.wwwebay.ca, www.amizon.com) may also be considered trademark infringements. Just because a company hasn't registered all variations of its name or trademark as domain names doesn't mean that others can use those domain names. If the domain names are likely to confuse consumers, they're probably infringing.

‘Cybersquatting’ and trademark infringement
A person who, in bad faith, uses, sells or offers for sale a domain name that infringes another's trademark, is known as a "cybersquatter". Courts, in the past, have awarded punitive damages and have issued injunctions compelling the cybersquatter to transfer his/her domain name to the plaintiff. Many countries around the world have enacted legislation around cybersquatting that carry stiff penalties.

Offering to sell a domain name may be used to establish "bad faith" and could expose you to serious liability.

Sanctions
If the product you are selling infringes a trademark, eBay may engage in a range of actions, including:

  • Listing cancellation

  • Limits on account privileges

  • Account suspension

  • Forfeit of eBay fees on cancelled listings

  • Loss of PowerSeller status

Reporting questionable items on eBay

Important: This information is not intended to be legal advice. If a member has any doubts about whether an item or domain name can be sold on eBay, eBay encourages the member to contact the trademark owner or consult an attorney.

Additional Information

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