A domain name is also known as an internet address. Technically, a domain refers to a computer address (IP address) that consists of numbers. An IP address is linked to a name because it is easier to remember than numbers. The system can be compared to a telephone book in which names are linked to telephone numbers; the internet user can easily find the relevant site. A domain name can be described as a distinctive function on the internet with all the features of a trade name, a brand and an address.
As an entrepreneur you want to be recognizable and easy to find. The use of the internet continues to increase; a website is the ideal way to present and profile your company. Your website address is the domain name. Just like a trade name, the domain name serves as an identifier: the chosen name makes the website recognizable and distinguishes it from other sites.
Only once the domain name has been registered, can a company launch and use its website online. You must therefore register your domain name.
Are you also planning to do business outside of your own country? If this is the case, you need to register an international domain name. You can choose the extension of the country you intend to do business in, such as .be or .de. To reach a larger audience, you should opt for a broader international domain name such as .com or .eu. You can register your international domain name on the same website where you registered your national domain name. International domain names generally cost more than national ones. If you want to reach an international audience, your website must back this up. Provide English texts and products that match the interests of people from other cultures.
Domain names are becoming increasingly important. A website in itself with an effective domain name is essential for a modern, competitive entrepreneur. There are now more than 162 million domain names and that number continues to grow. It is important to maintain control over your website and domain name: this way you can ensure that potential customers actually end up on your own website. Your domain name symbolizes the image of your company: protect it against unauthorized use.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Unlike a trademark or trade name, a domain name is not considered intellectual property. It is possible that you encounter an Internet and/or domain name that are virtually identical to that of your company. Most internet users hardly ever use the internet address to visit a website; they use Google to search for the company name or product. If your competitor’s domain name is very similar to yours, it could be very damaging to your business: you could lose potential visitors. You can take legal action, but legal procedures are expensive and will not necessarily go your way. The number of domain names has grown enormously in recent years: many entrepreneurs realize that prevention is better than cure. To protect their own domain name they buy multiple extensions.
A good domain name contributes to your commercial success. Choose it carefully! A good domain name is usually short and to the point, strong, contains no dashes, says something about your company, is easy to type and has a reliable and recognizable extension. Choose a new domain name that does not harm the trademark rights of others. You can check whether a name is registered on the host provider’s website.
Domain names must meet a number of international standards. The following rules are important:
- The domain name consists of letters, numbers and/or dashes.
- The dash may not be between two letters and/or numbers.
- A domain name contains a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 63 characters.
- Domain names may not conflict with public policy.
Domain names do not contain capitals, spaces, or other special characters.