Domain Name - Use as a Trademark?

"Since 1995, Sports Warehouse had used the name “Tennis Warehouse” in Australia and did not change its domain name for its online store. Sports Warehouse, for the first time in closing submissions, (while conceding that reputation in the context of s 60 was that of the mark rather than reputation on some other basis), contended that as a significant number of Australian residents visited the Tennis Warehouse website at the domain names “www.tennis-warehouse.com” or “www.tenniswarehouse.com”, by inference they came to know Sports Warehouse by that word, which did not include a TW device. While acknowledging that, once at the website, the customer would encounter the TW device with the TENNIS WAREHOUSE trade mark, counsel for Sports Warehouse submitted that the court could infer, in such circumstances, a “capacity for confusion” at which s 60 was essentially directed.

While it has been held that a domain name can in some circumstances constitute use of a trade mark (see Sports Warehouse v Fry at [146]-[156]), there was no evidence before the court to establish that, as at December 2006, the TENNIS WAREHOUSE mark had acquired a reputation through use of the domain names amongst any consumers or any significant section of the public."

See Fry Consulting Pty Ltd v Sports Warehouse Inc (No 2) [2012] FCA 81 (13 February 2012)

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