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Sannah Westerlund — 22/03/21

Do you regard your domain names as intangible assets? Congratulations!

Domain names are the most important basis for navigating the internet and today there are 350 million registered worldwide. E-commerce is conducted in billions via domain names, and they are the prerequisite for the productivity of numerous businesses. There should be no doubt that domain names are intellectual property in level with, for example, trademarks and patents.

There are significant differences between domain names and other types of intellectual property - but as we shall see, differences that add value and make them just as valuable as other forms of IP.

Differences between domain names and other IP

There are several differences between domain names and other intellectual property.

First of all, the registration procedure itself differs. Domain names are usually registered according to the “first-come-first-served” principle through a commercial agreement between the domain owner (registrant) and the organization that operates and administers the top-level domain (registry). As opposed to registering a trademark or patent with a national alt. international authority. The registration and use of a domain name are usually simple and fast, which allows the domain name to be purchased at a low cost and becomes an instant asset for its holder.

Once registered, a domain name does not cease to exist as long as its owner pays the annual fee and follows the guidelines from the registry. Patents are usually valid for 20 years before they become public. Copyright is valid for 70 years. For trademarks, the same applies as for domains, ie. that they do not expire as long as they are renewed, but in certain jurisdictions such as e.g. in the United States, trademarks may be discontinued if they are not used in connection with the sale of products or services.

Domain names also differ from other forms of IP in that they are unique and can only be owned and used by one holder. Patents can be co-owned, copyrights as well. Trademarks can be registered and used by several parties, as long as the trademark is not registered in the same class and jurisdiction. The fact that domain names can only be owned and used by one party drives up the value of the domain name and is the reason for a solid secondary market where strong domain names can change owners for large sums.

Similarities between domain names and other IP

As with any IP, domain names give the registered owner several rights. The right to use the asset, transfer it to others, and defend it against encroachment on the courts. The domain can be bought, sold, licensed.

Each intangible asset gives the owner a competitive advantage and prevents others from using the asset for commercial purposes.

Do not underestimate the value of domain names

Companies that realize the value of their domain names as IP have gained a lot. In the same way, companies with the opposite approach take risks that create vulnerability.

Domains increase traffic, visibility and protect brands. Missing domain renewals and/or maintenance can be devastating, resulting in lost money, lost productivity, and negative branding.

In this time of digitalization, it is more important than ever to manage your company’s online presence. Here, a well-thought-out domain name portfolio is the strongest intangible asset for protecting and marketing digital identity