In the online search industry the domain name may become a relevant part of the search strategy: keyword-rich domain names have been known to be favoured by search engines, giving them the ever-so-slight advantage on competition. It is not uncommon to seek a local presence by setting up a new local domain to acquire visibility.
The procedure to set up an .it domain name involves 3 parties:
- The Italian Registration Authority (NIC.it)
- A Provider/Maintainer
- The end user
The provider/maintainer, formally considered neutral in the process, is now held responsible and accountable for damages caused to others should infringements on registered trademarks be raised by a 3rd party.
The court identified providers/maintainers as an active party in setting up a domain name. By registering a domain name that relates to a registered trademark, the sentence identified the actions of the provider/maintainer similar to those of a “counterfeiter”.
The judge defined domain name purchasing as a typical entrepreneurial activity where risk is involved: Providers/Maintainers requesting the activation of a domain name, possibly a registered trademark, are being warned: You are liable for trademark infringements in Italy.