A US federal court has ruled that trade mark protection does not apply to generic top level domains (gTLDs). The Californian court said that .web cannot be protected as a trade mark.

The case was brought by domain registration service Image Online Design Inc. which offers domain names with the .web extension, despite the gTLD not yet being recognised in the internet’s default root servers. The company has been taking registration in anticipation of the recognition of .web as a new gTLD.

Image Online Design claimed that it possessed service mark rights for .web and that the CORE Association (Internet Council of Registrars) and its chairman, Ken Stubbs, infringed the mark because CORE’s domain registrar members allegedly took pre-registrations of domain names using .web.

However, the court said that .web, as a gTLD, cannot be protected as a trade mark.