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Difference between a Domain Name and a Website

Intellectual Property Insights

A domain name is essentially the address which directs users to a particular internet location. This internet location has a unique identifier, the Internet Protocol (IP) address, which would also direct users to the particular location. However, remembering the IP address (e.g. 88.215.89.1) for each website is challenging at best, so domain names provide an easy-to-recall alternative. Domain names must be registered and domain names which closely resemble or are associated with the company name are typically ideal for ensuring customer memory retention.

The particular internet location to which a domain name leads can include a website, which is hosted by web hosting. The website can include HTML pages, images and other website building data – all the content a user is able to view and access after entering the domain name into the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) search bar. Therefore, to create a website, it is necessary to have a registered domain name and web hosting. These are independent services although they are often offered together by a single service provider.

A domain name can be registered and not be associated with a particular website. This is often the case when defensive domain strategies are employed. In certain instances, multiple domain names can refer users to the same website hosted on a single, primary domain name used by the company. Companies can also consider moving their website from one domain to another, depending on the effect this will have on search engine optimisation.

Whilst the content of a website is generally automatically protected under copyright in South Africa, domain names must be registered to be reserved for a particular proprietor. Smit & Van Wyk can assist with the registration of domain names and can suggest suitable web hosting options depending on website requirements. Please contact us.

Posted on 21 May 2021
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