I have a web site and lately many people are registering similar domains to exploiting the reputation. Should one of them register my domain as a trademark, do I risk losing it? And on the contrary, if I have it registered as a trademark, could I protect myself against them?

By now almost constantly the judges decide the cases regarding the domain names by applying, in an analogue way, the trademarks regulation and considering them distinctive marks even though, in most cases, untypical. Considering this, the fear related to the risks we might incur or the disadvantages we could have, registering the domain as a trademark is quite legit. However, if a registration of a domain name has been done at a certain date and if somebody registers it as a trademark afterwards, this last one cannot, normally, demand the surrender of the domain or the ceasing of its use. The rights of a trademark prevail over the ones of the domain names, same as those related to any name use, but on the condition that the rights of the trademark are prior to the use of others. If a certain name is used as a distinctive mark or as an Internet domain, for a certain period, maybe distributing it as a national level, nobody can then register a trademark and make it be worth in comparison with the first user, as the use has started before. In such a situation, according to the type of use made of it and the notoriety of the trademark, any further registration can be invalid and even void. The same can be said for the prospected opposite hypothesis. Obviously a trademark can be registered but it can be difficult to get it recognised against whoever, before the registration, has used it. In this case there is some hope of victory by having, besides the mark, a widespread use and therefore opting for an action also implying unfair competition. In practice, for the protection of the domain names, a trademark registration is advisable, either contextual or prior to the one of the domain itself, and in any case prior to any registration of similar domains done afterwards.