A domain name is otherwise known as an internet address. Technically, a domain refers to a computer address (IP address) consisting of numbers. An IP address is associated with a name because it is easier to remember than numbers. The system can be compared to that of a phone book in which names are associated with telephone numbers; the internet user is easily able to find the linked site. A domain name can be described as a distinguishing feature on the internet with the characteristics of a trade name, a brand and an address.
As an entrepreneur you want to be recognisable and reachable. Use of the internet continues to rise; a website is the ideal way of presenting and profiling your company. The address of your website is the domain name. Like a trade name, the domain name serves as a means of identification: the chosen name makes the website recognisable and distinguishes it from other sites.
It is not until the domain name has been registered that a company can launch and use its website online. You will therefore need to register your domain name.
Are you also planning to do business outside of your own country? If so, you should register an international domain name. You can opt for the extension of the country in which you plan to work, such as .be or .de. To reach a wider public, 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 as where you register your national one. International domain names generally cost more than national ones. If you want to reach an international target group, your website will need to support this aim. Provide English texts and products that match the interests of people from other cultures.
Domain names are growing in importance. A website of its own with an effective domain name is essential for a modern, competitive entrepreneur. There are now over 162 million domain names and that number continues to grow. It is important to maintain control of your website and domain name: that way you know for sure that potential customers actually end up at your own website. Your domain name symbolises the image of your company: protect it from unauthorised use.
Prevention is better than cure
Unlike a trademark or trade name, a domain name is not Intellectual Property. It cannot be ruled out that you may come across an internet and domain name 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 very closely resembles yours this could be extremely detrimental to your business: you could lose potential visitors. You can take legal action, but legal proceedings are expensive and will not necessarily go your way. There has been huge growth in the number of domain names in recent years: many entrepreneurs realise 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, is snappy, does not contain any dashes, says something about your company, is easy to type and has a reliable and recognisable 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 websites of hosting providers.
Domain names have to meet a number of international standards. The following rules are important:
- The domain name consists of letters, numbers and/or dashes.
- The dash must not be between two letters and/or numbers.
- A domain name contains at least 2 and up to 63 characters.
- Domain names must not be contrary to public order.
- Domain names do not contain any capital letters, spaces or other special characters.