Be Cautious of “Common” Words That are Trademarks
Registering or purchasing a domain name that contains a commonly used word is a bad idea. It can lead to litigation or a UDRP, and it would severely limit a person’s ability to use the domain name.
The io9.com website had an interesting article about common English words that are actually trademarks, and I think it’s something domain investors should read. Some of these words are likely obvious trademarks to some people, but they may come as a surprise to others.
The aforementioned article had 15 common trademarks, but there are many others as well. Some trademarked terms that I frequently see in domain names that are listed for sale or sent to me for sale include the following:
- Yellow Pages (in some countries)
Have a look at marketplaces such as Ebay, NameJet and others, and you can see that there are many domain names for sale with those terms as well as many others. Some of them have since expired while some are still registered and being sold. My bet is that many of the owners of these domain names don’t have any idea that their domain names could pose trademark issues, but many of these trademark owners do protect their trademarks aggressively.
There are plenty of people who intentionally buy trademarked domain names. Some of these have traffic and are parked, some are used to sell products or services (likely without permission), some are used for scams and phishing, and others are investments with the hopes of reselling them to other domain buyers or companies. I think the issue of buying trademark domain names that are less commonly known as trademarks is a bigger risk.
If you can’t afford to ask a domain attorney every time you register a domain name, you should at least consult the USPTO Tess database to see if the term is trademarked. Many companies are willing to take the domain name and not litigate or file a UDRP, but it can be a big hassle dealing with domain names like these.
If you are going to be a domain buyer, it’s a good idea to know about some of the more common trademarked terms that are commonly used.
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