Could Market Basket Come After Owner of MyDemoulas.com? | DomainInvesting.com

Could Market Basket Come After Owner of MyDemoulas.com?

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Every so often, I check out my hometown newspaper, The Nashua Telegraph to see what’s happening in the area I grew up, and once in a while there’s an article of interest to me related to my business.

Yesterday, there was an article about the owner of a new website called MyDemoulas.com, which is an informational website about a fairly large New England Supermarket chain called Market Basket. The Market Basket chain was originally founded by the Demoulas brothers (ironically in Lowell, Massachusetts), and it was known as Demoulas Market Basket. I remember my family referring to it as both “Demoulas” and later, “Market Basket.”

Getting to the point, Market Basket does not have its own website.  To make up for this lack of a website, a local web developer named Michael Devaney created MyDemoulas.com, which has information about store locations and hours, circulars, special offers…etc. His site fills in for where Market Basket neglects their online audience, and the site is not associated with the chain.

The website clearly states that it’s “The only Market Basket website,” and it uses the Demoulas name in its domain name. In addition, the article mentions that Devaney is generating revenue from this website, and it also mentions that the company has not bought the website, despite “a number of inquiries” from Devaney.

There is no trademark for “Demoulas” in the USPTO, but I would imagine they could have some rights to it, especially when used in this way. In fact, I would bet they would be vehemently opposed to someone opening a supermarket in New England call Demoulas, since that name still means something to many (probably common law rights would be asserted if nothing else).

In my opinion, the owner is on shaky legal ground because he is profiting while using marks related to the Market Basket chain. I am not a lawyer, and it doesn’t seem like he has explicit permission to use the Demoulas domain name, especially in association with a Market Basket site.

It bothers me that an article like this was written.

For one thing, it encourages others to do similar things, although many might not have the technical skills to implement a website, so they could simply stop after buying a potentially infringing domain name. Secondly, it could put the guy in a bad spot, if Market Basket does build its own website and doesn’t want to be generous with this guy. They could possibly file a UDRP for the domain name or even a Lanham Act lawsuit.

I am all for entrepreneurs building businesses, but if you plan to use another company’s mark or brand, I believe you should get their permission first.


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.


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Comments (13)

    Acro

    Trivial, I know, but Demoulas is a Greek surname. Opa! 😀

    January 19th, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Michael Devaney

    Hey,

    Great article, our lawyers think otherwise as the circular is a public document handed out and sent out to anyone who wants it. Also they have no right over the domain unless they buy it.

    The website on every page states “Disclaimer: MyDemoulas.com is not connected, controlled, or maintained by DeMoulas Supermarkets, Inc ”

    Also visit MarketBasket.com or MBFoods.com both established companies are named Market Basket, and by my website tag line of “The Only Market Basket Website” is because I am, around here.

    I’m not trying to be market basket. I believe that if anything I have brought them customer that left back.

    Also i’m not using their brand or mark. They do not own “Market Basket” as noted above or “MyDemoulas” they own Demoulas Market Basket Inc.

    and there is no more DeMoulas only Market Baskets.

    But again I say, thank you; for your concern, and media!

    Visit MyDemoulas.com :)

    January 19th, 2011 at 7:15 pm

      Elliot

      @ Michael

      I think it’s very silly for MB not to have a website in this day and age. The least they should have is a placeholder site with store location/hours information. Knowing your development skills, they would be silly not to reward you for your efforts in helping them with their online presence.

      January 19th, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Michael Devaney

    @Elliot

    I have tried 2 ways to contact them, phone, email, and and as you’ll see both the telegraph and union leader state that they will not comment. I have no idea why. I’m hoping they buy it so i dont have to update it anymore :)

    January 19th, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    J

    I applaud the article because the actual website owner in question actually provides his side of the story. This is one of those priceless moments. Good job!

    I also own a domain that is specific to a company’s initials. I never registered the domain knowing of the job development company. I have the generic initials to their generic-state.org site. I never developed the site to avoid any problems.

    The domain can be extremely valuable to the job development company. If I plan to sell the domain, I will have a lawyer negotiate the deal. I already discussed a few domains with an attorney that was mentioned on this blog.

    Great article. Any media is positive.

    January 19th, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    J

    Supermarket chains should own their name. In my city, Sprouts own their generic name Sprouts.com. Vons, Albertsons, and Ralphs are corporate chains that run their websites. Smart move to advertise sales on a company site, which will save on advertising costs.

    MyDemoulas.com is a quality site. MB will realize the value of the site. Continue to generate traffic, and they will take notice. Good luck.

    January 19th, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Michael Devaney

    Traffic is incredible, i just hope they buy it before one of the leads over at BizBuySell.com or BizQuest.com makes me an offer.

    Thanks for the compliment on my site J.

    January 19th, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    j

    @Michael,

    You are definitely pulling in good traffic, especially operating in your local area. Your strategy alone is worth a lot of money. If I could generate that traffic to my education and resume domains, it would be a big accomplishment.

    When it comes to selling a website or a domain, I would sell to the highest bidder. You may want to be fair to offer the site to MP, or even wait for them, but you put it in the work to run the website. Essentially, you’re selling the time you invested in building and monetizing the site.

    The unique traffic alone is worth good money. I see many sites with 1/14 of your traffic generate high sales. Take your traffic in consideration when presenting the site to another interested party. Good luck.

    January 19th, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Louise

    Mr. Devaney did a bang up job with the site – it’s great!

    This could have a happy ending. The chain has a top notch website for its store, and it didn’t have to invest and be sold a bill of goods by designers or go through website developer firms. @ Elliot, I don’t think you can imagine the hassle and stress that represents to a little business! Because businesses and individual artists often promise work they’re not necessarily qualified to do to get the job, just like any building contractor.

    Now there’s a ready-made website, Market didn’t have to go through a process to hire someone or select a company and pay a complete full-time salary, and Mr. Devaney makes a little cash off of it, so the real benefit is to Market Basket, but it’s a self-sustaining site, so Market doesn’t have to lay out extra for employee pay and benefits.

    Plus, instead of an over-designed, over-SEO impersonal web presense, it’s obviously a person behind it, and it looks friendly and “neighborhood.”

    It’s an example of a success.

    It reminds me of a fan website that an artist doesn’t mind, because someone who has technical ability wants to go to the trouble to do connect with the fans, and some artists actually connect with these website owners and offer official releases because it’s already a meeting place for fans, and some used to come by and chat and make appearances with their fans, a form of unofficial endorsement.

    January 19th, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Jay

    If Market Basket wanted their own site, they would just use the domain name they have already registered… since 1999.

    January 26th, 2011 at 12:28 pm

      Elliot

      @ Jay

      Which domain name would that be? MarketBasket.com is owned by a completely different company.

      January 26th, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Jay

    demoulasmarketbasket.com

    January 26th, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Fran Walden

    I don’t think they want to use the demoulasmarketbasket name because I heard they don’t like using the demoulas name anymore. I also don’t understand why they didn’t come up with their own supermarket name instead of ripping off the Market Basket name from the original MB supermarket chain in Texas.

    June 25th, 2011 at 1:47 pm

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