A domain name itself is not a trademark. To qualify as a trademark, your domain name must be used in a way that distinguishes and identifies the source of the goods and/or services. The domain name should be included throughout the content of the website and outside of the website in connection with the goods and/or services. A domain name that merely directs someone to the website does not qualify for trademark protection. See TMEP 1215.02.
For example, consider the trademark use “DIMPLES.COM has the latest trends in ladies golf wear and equipment,” as opposed to “…purchase our golf wear for women at www.dimples.com.” Without proper use, another party using the same or a confusingly similar mark may register their mark, challenge your trademark rights, and even force you to surrender your domain name.
It is a best practice to register all variations of your domain name, i.e. -.com, -.net. However, this does not mean you own a trademark registration. In order to register your domain name as a federally registered trademark, you must do so on the principal register of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Whether you file your trademark application on an intent-to-use or use basis, you will eventually need to provide evidence (specimens) showing the domain name has been properly used as a trademark. Otherwise, you will be refused registration.
For more information on proper use and registration of your domain name as a trademark, contact your IP Lawyer, and please consider our Los Angeles-based office.