Don't Buy Brandable Trademark Domains! | DomainInvesting.com
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Don’t Buy Brandable Trademark Domains!

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A few days ago, I received an email from someone who is new to the domain industry who asked me for my opinion on some of his 200 domain names. He started out buying domain names in the past year, and probably has spent in the ballpark of $2,000 on his domain investments. I won’t reveal any more details about the person or his names because the details don’t really matter, but most of his names were call to action domain names involving trademarks.

In the email to me, this person mentioned Rick Schwartz’s sale of iReport.com to CNN as a reason that he registered some of the names. I replied to this person with my advice, and I think it could be beneficial to others who have similar names or have considered purchasing similar names.

“The reason Rick sold iReport.com to CNN for so much was that they had already created the brand on their site, and they needed the domain name to expand.  Rick didn’t buy ireport.com to sell it to them, or else they probably would have sued him rather than try to buy it.

As someone who worked at an ad agency for a couple of years, I can tell you that creative directors love coming up with their own ideas, and they would probably not use a slogan that someone else created.  [XYZ Company] probably has an ad agency of record and doesn’t do their own campaigns (although they approve them).

I personally stay away from all trademark related names, because they can be much more trouble than they’re worth. Some people justify buying those that make money with parking pages by making a business decision (revenue outweighs risk). That’s not my game, and I highly doubt any company will pay for a name using their TM if it doesn’t mean anything to them.

In my opinion, newly registered domain names that contain the name of a popular or well known brand are not of value and can be very risky and have little to no reward whatsoever. Many companies protect their brand names fiercely, and it’s not very likely that a company will buy worthless domain names from a cybersquatter.

While lawsuits involving trademark domain names are more rare than UDRP filings, I would say the likelihood of selling a blatant trademark name that you just registered is probably just as likely as a lawsuit.


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 (12)

    Available Domains Blog

    Great advice for the new and existing domain investors.

    November 1st, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    AG

    What about dictionary words that have been trademarked? For example say I own apple.net, can apple come after me?

    November 1st, 2009 at 5:07 pm

      Elliot

      @AG

      I would say that as long as you don’t infringe you should be okay… so if you owned Apple.net, you shouldn’t sell computers or music-related things. Apples and fruit, sure, but that’s probably it.

      November 1st, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    AG

    Thanks Elliot. I obviously dont own apple.net, but I do own a .net domain that is a dictionary word and gets over 20k exact searches.
    The company that owns the .com equivalent also owns many other extensions for this domain. So I’m sure they would be interested in it. But I’m a bit reluctant to offer it to them in case they say I am a cybersquatter etc.

    November 1st, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Richard

    AG,

    If you were to offer the domain to them they could have a claim against you. If you have the domain not infringing on their rights and they come to you, you have a lot better chance of not having a case filed against you.
    Your best bet is just to monetize it using the dictionary term and make sure that you do not mention anything about the trademarked company. You could also put a disclaimer on the bottom that states you are not apart of XYZ Company, but I’m not sure on the legalities of that.

    Best bet would be to ask for some legal advice on NPros or DNF and see if Berryhill or someone could respond.

    November 2nd, 2009 at 1:09 am

    Jacob

    To take AG’s question a bit further, any thoughts on on building a fruit minisite on Apple.net, and then approaching Apple.com to see if they are interested in acquiring your fruit business?

    Essentially, is building a disposable, non-infringing business around the domain, and then offering to sell this business to the more established TLD holder be an act of bad faith?

    Not asking for official legal advice, just wondering if anyone’s been slapped for trying this.

    November 3rd, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    trademark registration

    @ AG

    your discussion here helped me to make certain decisions on my domains & new domain purchase. Thanks

    – Vincent

    November 8th, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Victor

    I agree! If it is a word in the dictionary, you should not be able to sue. I own hummer.net (a person that hums or a baseball term). I shouls be able to use it as long as I don’t use it for auto items.

    February 15th, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Doeraymain

    I just ‘un-owned’ both genericlatisse.com and latissedrops.com Too close to the trademark.

    I just checked whois and the sites. They are both now owned and monetized by GoDaddy.

    February 21st, 2010 at 9:08 am

    LindaM

    Im wondering if GD might have dropped the ball on this.
    Picture this – shill company BrandedCo Ltd buys BrandedTM.com and disperses some backlinks to irrevocably link the brand and .com on the internet. They delete the domain before expiry so it reverts to GD parking ads.
    Parent company BrandedHoldings PLC sues GD and easily wins on blatant unauthorised monetization and trademark use of parent co.

    September 18th, 2010 at 10:45 am

    LindaM

    Which begs the question – is there an implicit requirement for a TM holder to own/not delete their .com??

    September 18th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Edd

    Rather old post… but I have a “funny” one. I bought a domain name 2 years ago it’s one word, really sexy and feminine. Branding potential is out of this world. When you pronounce the word you can just imagine a TV commercial for it comparable to one of those Calvin Klein ads, where at the end a woman gently whispers “Calvin Klein”… sounds real nice :) Anyway, 2 months ago I get an email from someone who asks me the purchase price of my domain name… I email back the price, and 2 days later he says it’s a fair price but can’t afford it right now. 2 days ago, I Google “mydomain+trademark” – and to my surprise I see this person has applied for a trademark with my domain… actually just the word itself not the dot com part. So I’m wondering what this person is up to…

    February 28th, 2013 at 1:31 pm

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