Academic Domain Names as Unregistered Trademarks in Educational Technology

Academic Domain Names as Unregistered Trademarks in Educational Technology

Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4555-3.ch009
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Academic domain names are not only addresses for communication, like postal addresses or phone numbers, but rather distinctive badges of origin that denote a unique set of educational services. More than badges even, domain names are exogenous orienting attentional cues that orient public attention to an academic domain name. Domain names, as attentional cues, evoke a psychological state of familiarity, acclimatization, adaptation, alignment, acculturation, and even reconciliation. After that, protection of the badge may be required against fraudsters who hope to trade on a good domain name.
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Domain Names As Unregistered Trade Marks

As unregistered trade marks, an academic domain name is a sign that is capable of distinguishing the programs and services of one university from those of another. A trade mark may, in particular, consist of words (including personal names), designs, letters, numerals or the shape of goods or their packaging’ (Trade Marks Act 1994, s.1). So a university's name can be both a domain name, such as “”, and a trade mark for “Aberystwyth University“. The registrant would have to show that the domain name is not merely functioning as an address for communication, like a postal address or phone number, but rather as a distinctive “badge of origin”, of a particular level of service. Surprisingly, at this writing, less than 10% of the 4,100 higher education institutions in the UK with domain names, use it as a badge of origin (, 2018).

Domain Names as Student Research

In some universities, students doing domain name research will find many issues to write about, as an intellectual property, as personal property, or as a unique institutional identity. As a Registrar recently lamented (Bluehost, 2019),

You have unique things to offer, things that set you apart from other people. That's why it's smart to establish yourself online through a portfolio, blog, or a that projects your message to the world. It's creating your very own marketable brand—something future employers, editors, admissions committees and in-laws can check out.

Student Organizations

Student organizations can request to have their domain name hosted directly by the University on the Student Council Server, if the domain name is not in violation of any policies or procedures (University of Virginia Student Council, 2019). Even Fraternities and Sororities, may request a groupname domain name for their organization, such as Students may also purchase a domain name through a variety of third party vendors (University of California at Berkeley, 2019). Several domain name registrars offer students “education bundles”. Bluehost for example, has education plans that “include everything you need bundled into one low price for as long as you keep the account active” (Bluehost, 2019) .

My Domain Name Is My Name

In 2004, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at Vancouver Island high school student was locked in a battle with Microsoft Corp. over his Internet domain name,, which had the software giant claiming copyright infringement. Since Mike Rowe's plight became public, however, Microsoft softened.”We do take our trademark seriously but maybe in this case a little too seriously,” said Jim Desler, of Microsoft's corporate communications department (BBC News, 2004).


What Is A Domain Name System?

A Domain Name System (DNS) electronically translates text-based names into the corresponding binary IP address that moves the data packets around the Internet. An academic domain name is a text-based Internet address used in the address bar of a web browser to denote the physical location of a particular host server, such as the address “” which has a physical location on the campus of the University of Edinburgh. An ‘IP address’ is the binary value of the Internet address of the form “”. In this way a domain name can distinguish the content on one website from that of another, and as such constitutes an unregistered trade mark deserving the protection of Trade Mark Law (Deveci, 2003). The first stakeholders in the Domain Name System are the Root Node Owners. Figure 1 illustrates the hierarchical structure of the Domain Name System.

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