Do the Right Thing |
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Do the Right Thing


A few days ago I acquired a great product-related domain name using Sedo. I saw the name at a good price, and I bought it after doing some due diligence, including a Whois History search and a quick search of the USPTO database. All of this came back without any problems, so I bought the name. As I’ve mentioned, I have been selling some domain names lately to pay off the cost of the acquisition, so I emailed a few clients and acquaintances offering this name for a good price.

Several hours after I sent the email, one of my acquaintances emailed me back with a listing from the USPTO. Unfortunately when I was searching for “this product” in the USPTO database, there were no listings; however, a search of “thisproduct” as a single word would have yielded the result. The product is similar to “Band Aids” in that other products in this category are often called “this product,” although it is less common than Band Aids, and the product has only been around for 5-6 years – about the same time as the industry. I emailed the original owner of the domain name (since 2003) and he told me he never received any inquiries or other communications from the TM holding company.

I am no better than anyone else, but I don’t feel comfortable owning, monetizing, or selling this domain name. I don’t want to potentially create a problem for someone else, even though all indications are that this domain name won’t cause a problem, since it’s been free and clear for over 4 years. I have taken this domain name off the market and changed the DNS from Fabulous, even though the name received about 8 uniques a day in the 2 days that I monetized it.

People often tell others to do things that they haven’t tried or wouldn’t do. It’s very easy to tell someone else how they should be managing their business, but it is much more difficult to actually do things sometimes. I am going to email the people to whom I sent the original message, and I will let them know that the name isn’t for sale. While I will lose several hundred dollars on this, I will sleep better knowing that I am doing the right thing.

About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of 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 Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.

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Comments (13)

    Troy Duncan

    This is a reminder That I need to create a checklist so I don’t overlook any trademarks. I’m a flipper, so I can’t afford to invest in a domain that I can’t sell.

    April 10th, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Emil @KING.NET

    I am on the same boat with you guys.

    Good decision Elliot.


    April 10th, 2008 at 10:07 am


    Actions like this demonstrate that our industry is comprised of legitmate businesses run by business people of integrity. Good call.

    April 10th, 2008 at 10:20 am


    Good call for personal integrity and as a representative of the ICA / looking forward to your view ref question re clusters


    While I am a supporter of the ICA, I am not a representative or board member :) I am a paying member though.

    April 10th, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Greg Nelson

    I always feel in instances like this it is too bad there is not a “friendly, I am not exploiting you” means to contact the company who should own the domain and see if they will pay you a minimal “consulting fee” in this case, possibly your acquisition fee. I understand the backlash that would result as a “loophole” to register TM terms, but if it was a sincere error or just the potential for conflict, why not a friendly introduction and discussion procedure with a Payment Cap – say $1000 on these discussions. I direct example myself was which I grabbed off a drop. As mentioned, this worked out well for all parties, but that was due to all parties being fair. Seems this is not the usual process as most assume “evil” intent from the start.

    Also, should you decide not to re-reg the domain every year, it will be picked up on a drop by someone else. The process never ends and the real end-user could benefit were it not for the “contacting fear”.

    April 10th, 2008 at 12:35 pm


    I just spoke with the attorney of record for the company that owns the trademark. He is going to reach out to the company to see if they would like the name at no cost. I took a risk by calling, but it was the right thing to do.

    April 10th, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    David J Castello

    I hope it was a unique word or phrase. To just cough up a name because someone has a TM is not always the best course of action and may set a bad precedent for other domainers. You did not know about the othe company’s TM when you acquired the name and could never be accused of Bad Faith.

    Case in point. We own A company that has a TM for Caution took us to UDRP arbitration in 2003. Our position was that we’d never heard of this Caution company and, most importantly, we were not using the name in a way that would confuse the public with their services.

    We won.

    April 10th, 2008 at 2:14 pm


    I think David has a point with regard to truly generic terms that some companies have TMs on. It’s a fine line though.

    It could all come to nothing as well. Years ago when Albuquerque’s new baseball team was announced I was shocked to find out that they hadn’t secured the domains and Instead they were relying on I’m a huge baseball fan and I wasn’t trying to exploit them when I registered those names. I was doing it because I wanted them to have the names. I got in contact with the GM and eventually the owner with an offer of just transferring the names to them. Their response was shocking: “No, we’ve already gone with and don’t want to start over.” They just didn’t understand.

    I hope it works out for the best for you Elliot. Please let us know what happens.

    April 10th, 2008 at 3:55 pm


    David brought up a very good point. I think it may just depends on the circumstance.

    April 10th, 2008 at 6:04 pm


    Elliot voted with his conscience, and that’s a good thing.

    It’s tough to lose money buying a domain like that, but I’ll bet Elliot will eventually reap some kind of reward for doing the right thing.

    I have a few stinkers, bought when I didn’t know any better, but at least they were reg fee.

    As for “caution”: I don’t see how the trademark owner could go after that word. The entire dictionary would be up for grabs by greedy companies.

    I’m glad you won.

    April 10th, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Dennis H.

    A trademark only gives the holder the right to a name in the specific industry that they are in. In your example of Band Aids I could use as a website/business that offers products and services to musical bands. It would only be illegal if I tried to use it in anything associated with the medical field.

    April 11th, 2008 at 10:17 am

    David J Castello just won a huge UDRP decision. Andrew has it at


    Huge difference between the two names. My name was only a few hundred dollars as well and wouldn’t have been worth defending if it ever came to that. I still haven’t heard from the company.

    April 11th, 2008 at 2:30 pm


    will you sleep just as well if the company does’nt contact you back?

    April 15th, 2008 at 3:40 am

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