Intellectual property consists of creative achievement and identifying symbol, among which a trademark falls into the scope of the latter. ".商标", which is a representation form of trademark by associating with a domain name on the Internet and which is different from trademarks, with features the functions conventional under the definition of conventional trademarks such as identifiableness, exclusivity, right, timeliness, and territoriality.
Identifiableness of ".商标"
According to the definition of trademark in Article 15 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Right (the "TRIPS Agreement") of the WTO, "any sign, or any combination of signs, capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings, shall be capable of constituting a trademark."
A domain name is a mark of online identity, while a trademark is a mark of intellectual property-identity. ".商标" takes generic top-level domain name as its carrier and that the suffix ".商标" is like the identifying sign of ® trademark. The sign of "商标" conveys the property of trademark to others and consumers visually and by its meaning. “.商标” is visible, usable, distinctive and identifiable. It has dual identifying functions of trademarks and domain names, enabling the virtual “.商标” to share the same fundamental functions of any conventional trademarks that distinguish goods, services, or the sources of specific individuals, enterprises or organizations related to such goods or services from others, making them easily identifiable by consumers. Meanwhile, the function of a ".商标" as a domain name enables a trademark to become a generic address locator on the World Wide Web, which may be used for product packaging, decorative design, manuals, business cards, exhibitions and conventional media. Furthermore, it may be widely applied in online brand promotion, search engines, website links and optimization, e-mails, e-commerce, e-government administration, QR codes, mobile network and the Internet of Things and other online applications.
Exclusivity of ".商标"
There cannot be two domain names which are exactly the same existing at the same time on the World Wide Web. A domain name relates to a single web address only. Once a “.商标" is registered successfully, its holder will exclusively hold such ".商标" in the world. At the same time, ".商标" is neither limited by geography, country and the 45-class industries of offline trademarks, nor besieged by trademarks of the same name. The holder of a ".商标" will have the indisputable exclusive right to use such ".商标" around the world. The holder is entitled to the use and revenue of the same, free from any interference of others, which is protected under laws.
Right of ".商标"
".商标" is available for the application, registration, and use by any trademark holder with a valid trademark certificate issued by any country and region included in the Madrid Protocol or by any applicant for trademarks under pending application. Once a ".商标" is registered successfully, its holder has the sole and exclusive domain name right around the world. As the registrant of a ".商标” they must be a trademark right holder, the registrant may express, promote, manifest, and protect its trademark on the World Wide Web in the form of ".商标", which is an extension and expansion of its trademark right on the Internet. Therefore, a ".商标" has both the trademark right and the domain name right. Meanwhile, the right of a ".商标" changes with the trademark right. The right of a ".商标" become invalid along with the invalidity of its corresponding trademark right.
Like a trademark, the ".商标" also functions to identify goods or services. The holder of a ".商标" may use its ".商标" and gain compensation by licensing and transferring the same. The features of global exclusivity and direct direction of a domain name to website ensure that any ".商标" cannot be used without permission from its holder.
Timeliness of ".商标"
Like an offline trademark, the ".商标" also holds time limitations. The registration of ".商标" is subject to renewal system rather than life-long system. Upon the expiry of registration term, the holder of any ".商标" should pay the corresponding registration fees for renewal, if required; otherwise, the ".商标" registration will be canceled.
Territoriality of ".商标"
As the Internet is without borders, there is no limitation on the territory in terms of its registration and use. Any trademark right holder in the world may register and use the ".商标" in the principle of "first come, first served". The registration rules of a ".商标" require that a ".商标" domain name should be related to a specific trademark right. If the domain name contains any name of a country or region (for instance, "ChineseGreatWall.商标"), the registrant should have the trademark right under the jurisdiction of such territory. It ensures that a ".商标" domain name can fully represent the territory of the related trademark right, while containing the name of a specific territory.
A ".商标" and its related trademark right shares the same holder that effectively ensures the authenticity, accuracy, and creditability of the information of products and services furnished by the registrant of the ".商标" on the Internet, greatly helps consumers and users identify the information of goods and services on the Internet based on the ".商标", reduce infringement upon brand trademarks on the Internet, eliminate confusion caused by the inconsistency between brand trademarks online and offline, and minimize consumers’ risk of being cheated or buying fake goods resulting from inability to identify real brand information, so as to effectively protect the interests of individuals, sellers, enterprises, producers, and organizations regarding brand trademarks.
The use of ".商标" may enhance consumers and users' impression and memory of brand trademarks, strengthen the recognition degree, and improve the reputation and goodwill of brand trademarks. ".商标" functions actively in directing consumers' preference to branded goods.
A ".商标" gives trademarks more space for use and representation, making trademarks vigorous, enabling even faster dissemination and wider scope of brand influence, representing the image, quality, and goodwill of brand goods and services on the Internet, which takes a predominant role and position in the commercial society of the Internet age. Through repeated use by consumers and long-term application and promotion by its holder, ".商标" has gradually consolidated influence of brand on the Internet to gain more popularity and reputation and to lay down a solid foundation for goods and services to tap into the global market. ".商标" becomes the most frequent network mark and sign representing brands on the Internet, which is a new element of a brand. Meanwhile, the emergence of ".商标" has a far-fetching influence and significance in boosting intellectual property right in the Internet age, having an active function in the healthy and sustainable development of the Internet. Based on such functions, usages, right, and value and significance of its existence, a ".商标" is therefore deemed as a trademark on the Internet, which is a sign of reputation of any online brand of any individuals, enterprises, or organizations in the Internet information age.