The function of a trademark is to guarantee the mark as an indication of origin. It confers on the owner exclusive rights of use. The owner is entitled to prevent all third parties not having consent from using any sign which is identical to the trademark in relation to goods or services identical with those for which the trademark is registered. The trademark owner may further prohibit the use of any sign where, because of its similarity to the trademark, there exists a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public.
Company names in Germany are protected to the same extend as trademarks. Even without any goodwill, the registration of a company name in the commercial registry or any genuine use of the company name in Germany triggers protection equal to trademark protection. In contrast to the "Passing off" principle in common law, no proof of goodwill or damage is required.
Domains are to be regarded as the company name of an online business. As with any other use of a sign, a domain might either infringe third parties-trademark rights or constitute trademark protection as a company name. The intended use of a domain should therefore be subject to a prior assessment of legal risks arising out of possible infringements of older signs.
We have many years of experience protecting and enforcing of brand names. Our lawyers have obtained many permanent injunctions, preliminary injunctions and other court orders preventing further infringement of our clients-trademark rights. By issuing cease-and-desist letters we have enforced settlements requiring the infringers to change their company names or brands and to pay substantial license fees. We give strategic and forensic advice, whether in the first steps of conception and development or enforcing and defending trademarks, company names or domains. We further enable our clients to maximize brand potential through advice in negotiating contracts and licensing.