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How do I register and protect my domain?

Our fact sheet shows you what to watch out for when selecting your domain and how to protect it.

The answer in detail

You've founded a startup and want to make it known via the Internet as soon as possible?

In addition to a new website, selecting and registering a domain are among the most important factors in the success of your business.  By entering the domain name in the browser, the user can visit your website and the domain name can also be used to generate email addresses. Since every IP address and thus every domain name must be unique, they are coordinated centrally. Choosing the right domain name plays an important role since your name helps you attract users and thus also potential customers to your website.

We’ll show you what you have to look out for in five points:

  1. Choosing and forming a domain name
  2. Choosing the top-level domain (.ch, .com, .org endings, for example)
  3. Registration process
  4. Conflicts with the names, brands, and domain names of third parties
  5. Transferring domains

1. Choosing and forming a domain name

  • Your domain name should be:
    • easy to remember,
    • obvious,
    • simple, and
    • easy to find quickly.
  • If possible, avoid using numbers in the domain name since it can be difficult for users to recognize whether the number is meant to be numerical or written out.
  • Make sure you avoid complicated, error-prone ways of spelling. It is not possible to differentiate between upper- and lowercase. Do not use any special symbols except for hyphens.
  • Depending on the top-level domain (i.e. .ch, .com or .org, etc.) you have chosen, additional rules apply to the creation of a domain name, for example a minimum length of three characters. Inform yourself about the rules of each top-level domain.
  • Under certain circumstances, it makes sense to register numerous spellings of your domain to intercept visitors who misspell the domain, for example: www.travelhouse.ch and www.travel-house.ch. Have the variations of your domain linked to the main domain.

2. Choosing the top-level domain (.ch, .com, .org endings, for example)

There are generic top-level domains such as .com, .info, and .org, and country-specific ones like .ch, .de, .li, etc., and more recently others like .swiss, or .fashion.
Choosing the right ending for you depends on various factors. For example, what the main purpose of your website is and which countries you want to reach. Consider what makes sense for your industry: .com for company websites, for example, or .org for non-commercial organizations.

3. Registration process

Once you have found your preferred domain name, you must next check the following:

  • whether it is still available. You can check this online at swizzonic.ch or green.ch, for instance.
  • whether it infringes on the rights of third parties. You can check this at switch.ch, for example.

Once you have checked and clarified these two questions, you can register via a registrar, like green.ch, for example. Registrars take care of the registration process with the issuing agency for you and also offer other services such as web hosting. You must consider which registrar can offer you the right services and the best conditions.

4. Conflicts with the names, brands, and domain names of third parties

Here, the rule “first come, first served” applies. This means whoever has a domain registered first is entitled to it provided the rights to it cannot be claimed by a third party (e.g. with regard to trademarks).
For this reason, you must be careful when registering a domain name. It can be illegal if the domain name:

  • is identical to or can be mistaken with another domain name, 
  • exploits the reputation of brands or persons or generates an illicit risk of confusion with third parties or domains, or with products of third parties, or
  • is registered with a foreign name or brand with the sole purpose of being able to sell it at a profit at a later time (“domain name grabbing”).

You can find more information on how to protect yourself against registration of a domain name by third parties in our fact sheet.

5. Transferring domains

The process for transferring domain names from the holder to a third party depends on the provisions of the registrar of the domain concerned. Inform yourself on the matter from your registrar directly.

Our fact sheet offers more tips for you on the five areas named above. Our sample letter can help you with how to proceed when there is a domain conflict – for example, if another firm is contesting your domain.