Q: My competitor offers a similar service and uses a very similar domain name. Is this a trademark infringement?
For the past month I have been developing my SaaS product, and on the first day I purchased a domain name. Let's say that the domain is Service.ai.
I was doing competitor research the other day and I found that someone has launched a very similar service on their domain Servicing.ai.
The domain is a word within the dictionary. The competitor is using the present principle version of the word (with -ing), and I am using the base form (without -s, -ing, and -ed).
I fell in love with this brand name and have big visions for it, and believe that I can do it much better han my competitor. However, I want to prevent a potential legal situation given that my single-word domain is the same, and providing the same service.
Is this something that I need to fix before launch?
A: Unless you have used it for longer than him and you have proper registrations, you probably have no case. Consult with an attorney.
A: In the U.S., trademarks arise through "use in commerce." "Commerce" means an actual commercial sale, lease or similar transaction involving a product or service. Reserving a domain name is important, but it isn't enough, by itself, to establish a trademark right. If the mark is descriptive (rather than fanciful, arbitrary or generic), and neither of you have registered it, then it's possible you might eventually be able to prove your mark acquired distinctiveness before theirs did, and claim it on that basis. Litigating that kind of claim, however, can be difficult and very expensive, and there is no guarantee that you would win. The safer course would be to come up with a new mark, preferably one that is fanciful or arbitrary, do a trademark search and then apply to register it as quickly as possible.
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