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Domain Name Dispute

Creative domain names can go a long way, especially for law firms. A short, memorable domain name will most likely be more attractive than a long, common name. Choosing a name for a law firm website is important for a firm’s reputation. A client will most likely encounter the firm’s domain name before seeking the firm’s services, and in that case, the firm should ensure that the domain name is valuable.

Sometimes firms can get into trouble if a similar domain name is out there. Recently, Squire Patton Boggs, a U.S.-based law firm, lost its claim to its domain name squirepattonboggs.net to a Chinese company. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) ruled that the Chinese-based technology development company was the rightful owner to the domain name squirepattonboggs.net. Squire Sanders and Patton Boggs merged in 2014, and the firm tried to prove that it was a reputable brand before the Chinese-based company registered the domain name. The Chinese-based company argued that Squire Patton Boggs did not have a right to the name Squire Patton Boggs when it registered squirepattonboggs.com, because that name was registered one week after the Chinese company registered squirepattonboggs.net. This case may have some kind of impact on the firm’s clientele–whether it be a small or big impact.

There are many tools available for law firms to check if a given domain name is available. For instance, search engines like Domize and GoDaddy are a couple of tools that allow users to search and register domain names that are available. Lawyers can also make their domain name unique by using a top level domain (TLD) that is different from the usual .com or .net. For instance, ICANN has approved the usage of .lawyer and .attorney as a top level domain. However, such names are not as common as using .com, and it may be argued that a name will be taken more seriously if .com is used rather than the other creative options out there.

Coming up with a unique law firm name is important, but it is equally important to have a reliable law firm domain name–one that is not likely to lead to a legal dispute because of uncertainties.

Ronique Padda