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Domain Name & Conflicts

Domain names and thus the websites are essentially becoming a constantly developing field of intellectual property protection and enforcement, particularly against infringements of trademarks, and even of designs and copyright, due to global e-commerce growing vastly over the last decade.

Unlike trademarks and designs, where there is exclusive legislation on how to register and protect them in a national or regional territory, domain names can be registered and websites providing no-stop service for companies in marketing and sales activities can become active even in global scale within minutes, with no review or approval.

Turkey has strict policy in place against bad faith attempts, particularly on second level domain names, including .com.tr, .biz.tr, and .info.tr, dedicated to commercial activities of real and legal persons. This can be achieved thanks to requirements for official documents indicating an application for trademark registration, a commercial activity document, ie, from the chamber of commerce, and/or an identity document during the domain name filing stage. Besides, a strict dispute resolution mechanism exists based on objections filed by interesting parties within a six-month of opposition period upon the grant of a conflicting domain name.

As a final option, such domain names can also be invalidated through a legal action before the specialised IP court. But the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff and the case may need to be supported evidentially with other IP rights, ie, copyright, trademarks and designs.

Registering A Domain Name of “.TR” Extension

In order to acquire a domain name of “.tr” extension in Turkey by a foreign firm having no registered business in Turkey, it is required to prove a proof of business connection to Turkey by commercial activity or to have a trademark application or registration in Turkey.

If it is intended to secure domain name of “.tr” extension, a foreign firm should submit company registration certificate issued by foreign chamber of office and any documentations to prove the active use of the domain name in Turkey or the existence of substantive preparations and efforts to use it in Turkey, e.g. invoices, distribution agreement, franchising agreements etc.

It is the easiest way for the foreign firms to secure domain name registration of “.tr” extension in Turkey by enjoying a trademark application or registration, and most advisable therefore. The only document required in this case is a copy of trademark filing or registration (or renewal) certificate.

A domain name requested based on a pending trademark application is provisionally granted till the registration process and published for third party opposition for a six months. In course of the publication period, if any opposition is raised and accepted by the Board of Examination, or the trademark application is refused in the meantime, or the registration is not notified to the “.tr” Domain Name Administration if the trademark application is registered, the provisionally granted domain name is discontinued. However, if the domain name is actively used for 2 years and if no opposition of rightful base is filed, the domain name is registered in the name of the applicant without regarding the trademark application being registered or not.

As a rule, the domain name should be exactly same as the terms making the registered trademark. To give an example: if the trademark is "ABCD", the domain name should be registered as www.abcd.com.tr without any addition. If the domain name is requested to be registered with additional terms to the trademark, these additional term(s) are expected to be within the list of the goods/services. Otherwise, the registrability of the trademark with additional terms as domain name is only at discretion of the examiners.

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