2017 brought monumental change in technology. In fact, 2017 set the all time record for closures of brick and mortar stores and openings of online stores. These days consumers are more inclined to do their shopping from the comfort of their own homes rather than brave the crowds in the malls.

This change in shopping trends creates a unique opportunity for the start up shop. Consumers prefer to shop around the net rather than the mall. Entrepreneurs no longer have to strategically source out the prime geographical physical space but can set up their boutiques online with the ability to reach an international audience.

But starting an online store comes with a host of unique intellectual property issues.

For example: domain names and trademarks.

When starting an online store, the domain name is a good place to start. Your domain name is the part of the website address that identifies the site and belongs to you. The name should be a representation of your business; it is the brand you want to portray to the world. And while the creative aspect of the name is important there is an entire legal regime to be aware of.  Your domain name must be registered. To register, the name must be available, meaning it cannot already be in use and must be unique to your business.

When picking a domain name aspects of trademark law should must also be considered. Your domain name should become an important part of your brand and trademark laws are in place to protect your brand. Trademarks, like a domain name, can and should be registered, and work to protect brands that are unique. A trademark is a legal tool which can protect your brand from businesses trying to copy your products or services.

While picking a domain name is the logical first step in creating your online business the domain name should be considered in conjunction with trademarks. It is important to remember that a domain name registration does not automatically give you trademark protection. To ensure your brand is protected it’s always a good idea to consult a lawyer or a trademark agent when starting your new business. The time and energy spent developing a brand name and purchasing a domain could be wasted if the proposed name is already registered by someone else.

What’s more is that a well thought out domain name and trademark strategy provides not only protection, but creates intellectual property assets that will grow in value as your business grows. Overtime, these assets may prove to be as valuable as the revenues being generated through the operation of the online store, and be considerably more than the original cost to secure them.  A wise investment indeed.