August 12, 2015
A recent change in Google's structure has some scratching their heads regarding related domain name issues.
Google announced it has created a new company called Alphabet; which is a collection of companies including Google. The reasons for doing so would probably be pretty boring for most folks, but one of the interesting things about this move is related to the associated domain name.
In a world of business that is increasingly geared to online activities; what a company is named can be strongly influenced by the availability of a matching domain.
Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin quipped in their original founders letter from 11 years ago: "Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one." That certainly appears to have proven true in this situation.
In the case of Alphabet, Google either didn't check or didn't care before settling on a name for its new company. Alphabet.com is actually registered and actively used by BMW.
According to a BMW spokesperson, Google didn't approach the company to acquire the domain name, nor is it for sale. The New York Times says BMW is looking into whether any trademark infringement has taken place.
Under US law, trademark infringement may be deemed to have occurred if another company’s use could create confusion with consumers. While Google is best known for its search products, it's also venturing into automotive technologies.
While it may be debatable if confusion will occur, something that certainly has is curiosity - the Alphabet.com web site appears to have been under heavy load since the announcement.
Whether the two giants duke it out in the courts remains to be seen, but the situation is a good reminder to the rest of us about the importance of checking whether a suitable domain name (.com.au for Australian businesses) is available before settling on a business name - and to check very carefully for potential trademark issues.
Most of us don't have the time or financial resources of a BMW or a Google to be battling trademark related law suits; or potentially confusing prospective customers and partners.
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How to register a name: Enter your choice in the search tool and click 'GO'. If after the check the domain names search results show your choice is available, you will then have the option to proceed to purchase registration; which is a very quick and easy process - start a search and find your ideal website address now.