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Domain Investors Need to Take Better Care of Valuable Domain Names

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In April of 2008, Jay Westerdal announced that his company had the exclusive sales listing for the generic domain name Harmony.com, and the reserve price was $5,000,000. I don’t recall seeing whether the domain name was sold or not, but I just saw that a UDRP was filed at NAF for Harmony.com on November 12, 2009 (Case #1292225).

Since the NAF doesn’t list the Complainant yet, I can only guess it is the parent company of eHarmony.com who would file a complaint, as they seem the most likely to want the domain name. At first, it would seem like a company is making a grab at this great generic domain name, but if you take a further look at the parked page, it looks less like that. Not only is there a link to learn about purchasing the domain name, there are also dating site links, including one for eHarmony.com. This was just on the main landing page, without even having to do a search to influence the results.

Harmony.com Screenshot

I believe this is similar to a recent case involving Dolphins.com, where the owner had football-related PPC links, and the Miami Dolphins filed a UDRP for Dolphins.com. Although the domain owner does have very limited control over what content is displayed on parked page, owners need to be very careful not to put their valuable domain names at risk.

In a UDRP, a trademark owner needs to prove three things: 1) the complainant has a trademark right that is identical or confusingly similar to the domain name in question, 2) the domain owner has no right or legitimate interest in the domain name, and 3) the domain owner registered and used the domain in bad faith.

Sure, virtually any company can file a UDRP for any domain name they would like (as we’ve seen many times with cases like Pig.com for example), but we shouldn’t make it any easier for them to use the UDRP process to acquire domain names. Harmony.com is a good generic domain name, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out.


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 (28)

    David J Castello

    Today, allowing unrestricted advertising on a great name is analagous to putting up a Welcome sign for trademark attorneys. The moment that eHarmony adv went up on Harmony.com somewhere a trademark attorney was smiling. It doesn’t mean they’ll win, but they’ll have a decent shot with UDRP at a fraction of the cost of buying the name.

    November 14th, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Alan

    “allowing unrestricted advertising on a great name is analagous to putting up a Welcome sign for trademark attorneys”

    words of wisdom from the west coast for sure.

    November 14th, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    JB

    Kiss that baby goodbye. Allowing those ads to run for a period of time makes the eharmony case pretty strong.

    November 14th, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    WQ

    I believe it was K. Hamm that bought Harmony.com a long time ago…6 figures but can’t remember exact price.

    It used to be a generic, noon dating related lander but now it seems they are going for broke listing dating sites.

    I bet eHarmony waited for them to slip up before filing on them.

    Thats going to be one expensive loss.

    They can kiss it goodbye.

    November 14th, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    WQ

    That’s Ham with one M…

    November 14th, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Chip Meade

    Yikes.com

    One of the problems is that harmony outside of the tm eHarmony, has nothing to do with dating. So it is pretty hard to justify dating sites coming up in parking without an effort to flag it as such. There are too many panelists with bias against domainers for this risk to have been taken. This puppy could be gone.

    Question for the masses. If you ask the parking company to maximize your domain, Can you take action (as a domain owner) for selecting a tm route for an otherwise generic domain? Haven’t read the agreements but my guess is that they are all similar.

    November 14th, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Elliot

    @ WQ

    I don’t know who bought it (or who owns it now), but DNJournal reported the sale in 2004 for $50,000.

    http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/domainsales/2004/domainsales08_10_04.htm

    November 14th, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Gazzip

    Yet another chili beans scenario

    ..and a very good reason for parking companies to implement a function that allows us to either accept or deny showing certain ads that may put us at high risk of loosing a generic domain to WIPO

    November 14th, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Richard

    Most parking companies if not all of them allow you to set ‘restrictions’ per say. You can have a list of inclusions and exclusions, but it still doesn’t mean that the self optimizing system can’t somehow circumvent your exclusions and put up a trademarked term. I wonder if the parking companies can have any liability when someone loses a domain name through udrp? Since they could do the due diligence of cross checking at least the USPTO database of trademarked terms.

    November 14th, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    WQ

    I was off on the 6 figures…for some reason I remember it selling for much more.

    DomainDeluxe is Ham’s sidekick…

    November 14th, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    David Taylor

    Elliot, do you use an IP attorney to make a domain sales proposal (professional mail proposal) on a private deal or are you simply doing email correspondence?

    Thanks for your help,
    Dave

    November 14th, 2009 at 6:14 pm

      Elliot

      @David

      Really depends on the situation.

      November 14th, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    sumbini

    Very good “eye opener” example of what can easily happen if one is not on top of their valuable and high traffic “parked” domains!

    This is an unfortunate situation that could have been avoided by simply removing or exlcuding certain keywords from the parked page feed.

    It is also a good idea to periodically check the ads on valuable and high traffic parked domains to remove any keywords that might slip by and to keep them fully optimized.

    November 14th, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Gazzip

    @ Richard

    “Most parking companies if not all of them allow you to set ‘restrictions’ per say.”

    I did’nt know that, do you know if sedo offers that option somewhere ?

    Thanks

    November 14th, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Ira Zoot

    I totally agree with David’s post … but I have a question. As well as the entry header:

    “Domain Investors Need to Take Better Care of Valuable Domain Names”

    But maybe I missed the answer above. This blog post about this domain originally was from 2008. Has something happened to warrant the new entry about this particular domain?

    Just askin :)

    November 14th, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Elliot

    @ Ira

    Huh?

    I mentioned Jay’s blog post because it shows the owner thinks the domain name has $5m in value to someone, and I think it’s a big risk to show dating ads.

    The UDRP filing from a few days ago is the reason I posted my article.

    November 14th, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Ira Zoot

    Afternoon Elliot … AAAa the udrp was from a few days ago. Gotcha … I didn’t look at that. I was thrown when I saw the date of Jay’s blog post. Thanks … wasn’t trying to be a thorn just figured I’d ask. :)
    People keep telling me there is no such thing as a stupid question …
    I am starting to wonder about that.

    November 14th, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Elliot

    @ Ira

    LOL :)

    November 14th, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Richard

    @Gazzip

    I’m really not sure about Sedo parking, but parked allows you to have “related words” and “removed keywords” as well as the ability to set your keyword.

    November 14th, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Ravi

    The best is to develop generic domains.

    November 14th, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Steve M

    Given the owner and its value, this domain isn’t going anywhere.

    Even if the complainant wins the UDRP, any US court will slap them down.

    November 14th, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Caesar

    I think it helps a lot when you remove that search box from the PPC settings.

    because overtime, on high traffic names you will always have people typing something in related to their search.

    In this case, 5 people typing in “harmony dating” may have been enough for the parking feed automaticaly being adapted.

    if you put up a search box on a parked page anyone can proof that any type of ad showed on your site.

    November 15th, 2009 at 5:06 am

    EuropeanDomainCentre

    The short term ppc gains are not worth it if this is The evidence needed to win a dispute. Under normal circumstances eharmony.com would not have a case. Seriously there must be other companies with Harmony in their name or tm which would have The same Rights

    Christopher Hofman

    November 15th, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Stian Eng Holtet

    The complainant might as well be Logitech. Their “Harmony” range of universal remotes are on of their biggest selling products.

    Either way, if you can’t afford losing a domain, then you shouldn’t have TM infringing content on it.

    Let’s hope the complainant is denied transfer and that the owner is more careful in the future. :)

    November 15th, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Stian Eng Holtet

    Now, I just visited the site again and there’s eHarmony and dating links all over the page. This should be an easy catch for the complainant, unfortunately.

    November 15th, 2009 at 7:29 am

    Robbie

    No matter how you slice it , they are profiting from somebody elses brand.

    harmony it’s not desciptive of “dating”

    He’ll be lucky if not sued in court.

    Greed at it’s best.

    Reality check.

    November 17th, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Stephen Douglas

    @ Ira –

    “No such thing as a stupid question” — there isn’t ever a stupid question, just stupid answers!

    I see none here. Man, I wish I was as sugary as you are in your comments! Nice to see a post from you, Ira.

    November 20th, 2009 at 4:34 am

    UDRPtalk

    harmony.com is shown as WITHDRAWN:
    http://www.udrpsearch.com/naf/1292225

    Anyone know what transpired?

    March 4th, 2010 at 6:54 pm

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