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  • Peter Kam Fai Cheung SBS

Names, Marks & Domains

Trade names (eg peterC@Solutions) are designations under which business activity is carried out. Trade names can be real and fictitious. The function of trade names is primarily administrative eg filing returns to regulatory authorities.

Trademarks are any signs particularly words such as names, letters, numerals and figurative elements or combinations of colours. Trade marks can include trade names. The function of trade marks is to distinguish the goods or services of one undertaking from another.

Article 8 of the International Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (also adopted as part of WTO's legal framework) provides for the protection of trade names "without the obligation of filing or registration, whether or not it forms part of the trademark". WTO Members protect trade names under their unfair competition laws (trademark laws and common law passing-off actions included). For example, bad faith registration of a domain name (which can be a trade mark incorporating a trade name) evidences passing off.

When the honestly-used trade names are registered online as domain names, its brand value becomes more visible and tangible in e-Commerce. As brand value, whether offline or online, boils down to customer relationship, the more direct the relationship the better, in light of keen e-Commerce competition. Registration of a proprietor's domain name with ICANN approved gTLD registries such as ".Trademark (in simplified Chinese characters)" is a unique way to secure authentic access between any customer and the registrant proprietor!

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