Using Trademarks in Domain Names
I was searching Google for an accessory for a new Apple product, and I was surprised at the number of domain names that included Apple trademarks. Since receiving a cease and desist letter from a company several years back when I first started buying domain names, I have been very careful not to buy domain names that contain obvious trademarks.
I believe many domain investors look at this and wrongly believe that the seemingly free usage of trademark domain names means that the trademark owner doesn’t care about protecting its marks, and domain investors can buy and sell them with limited risk. Although the risk may in fact be low for many trademark domain names, the penalty can be very high – up to $100,000 per domain name according to the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.
Apple may not be a company that appears to actively litigate for infringing domain names, but there are plenty of companies that do – like Microsoft. When thinking about buying these domain names, especially when the sole purpose is resale, you should consider the legal repercussions.
There are plenty of people and companies that make business decisions every day because they own revenue generating domain names that contain trademarks, but newly minted domain investors probably have a much lower chance at hand registering TM names that will produce revenue. If you own a TM name that doesn’t make money, you have a liability rather than an asset.
I know Rick talked about registering BP spill-related domain names that generate PPC revenue, but keep in mind that Rick can afford to fight a legal battle if necessary. It’s the cost of doing business. Others who try to emulate this type of registration may not be so lucky. There are plenty of companies and lawyers who would like to make an example out of someone.
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