Why Brands Need to Protect Their Trademarks | DomainInvesting.com
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Why Brands Need to Protect Their Trademarks

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There are many companies that actively protect their trademarks when it comes to domain names. Some utilize the UDRP process and others use the legal system to take control of their domain names. They don’t want other companies to make money off of their brands and trademarks, and they don’t want to consumers to be tricked into buying products that aren’t licensed.

One company that doesn’t appear to aggressively defend its marks when it comes to domain names is Sub Zero. Upon looking for a licensed / certified Sub Zero repair company in Google, I see many companies with Sub Zero in their domain names. Some use the Sub Zero domain names as websites and others seem to use them as simple SEO friendly landing pages.

Having the brand in a domain name makes it seem that they are licensed by the company, when they might not actually be licensed. There appears to be a significant amount of private companies operating on domain names that have the SZ brand, and it is not clear whether they have approval to do so, although some might say that not going after these users is sort of a tacit approval.

According to UDRPSearch.com, Sub-Zero, Inc. filed one UDRP for esubzero.com, and the company was victorious. There may be other filings, but I could not find another UDRP filed by the company. There may also be litigation related to domain names, but I did not find anything.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to pay a technician to come out and perform repairs on my refrigerator when they may not be licensed to do those repairs, and possibly worse, may not use company made parts. When you spend hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars on repairs, you want to be sure that you are getting parts and services that are approved by the company.

As a consumer, it’s annoying to see people use brands in domain names when they probably shouldn’t.


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and professional domain investor. Elliot is President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a domain investing company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Elliot is the publisher of DomainInvesting.com.

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Comments (9)

    RaTHeaD

    that’s cold.

    September 23rd, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    unknowndomainer

    If you predominantly work on subzero refrigerators there is little that subzero can do to protect their brand in the domain name. A UDRP will likely result in a loss and the courts starts getting expensive for each individual case.

    It’s similar to WordPress. There’s really nothing they can do if you use WordPress in a domain name; however, they will simply essentially black ball you so it’s not worth it.

    The best thing is to tightly control the “authorized by..” partnerships. Licensed to do repairs will be handled by your government (they ensure you are insured etc.). Authorized is just a company assurance policy more than anything.

    Subzero have cheap plastic components like every other brand – so it doesn’t matter anyway. Ever looked at a subzero timer? Piece of plastic and a 50c spring… a non official part would probably be an improvement.

    September 25th, 2012 at 3:20 am

      Elliot Silver

      They could file a UDRP like they did for esubzero.com (which the company won). I don’t really know why they aren’t protecting the brand more when it comes to domain names.

      September 25th, 2012 at 8:19 am

    DoktorThomas

    Not every use of “sub-zero” refers to or abuses that company’s trademark. For example, “sub-zeroidiots.com” could be a blog about democrats and republicans in the US federal government… or the lazy people who build walk-in freezers. No rational person could confuse the purpose and ownership of the two. Hence not violations.

    Sub-zero should have registered its brand name when the internet started; their failure to act should result in loss of their trademark, not a reward in taking someone else’s property, dot.com. Bad decision. Bad lawyering. Bad judging. Bad outcome. Bad for the internet and its aficionados. Only the lazy undeserving win here… that’s injustice.

    September 25th, 2012 at 8:17 am

      Elliot Silver

      Of course, but that can be said about most brands (AppleRecipes.com would be an example).

      In my opinion, if an unlicensed company uses a name like SubZeroRepairs.com or something similar to make it seem official, and they are offering unlicensed repairs that would void a warranty, the company should do a better job at protecting its marks to protect consumers from choosing an unlicensed repair person that is not covered by the company.

      September 25th, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Karen Bernstein

    Good point, Elliot. This is what happens when trademark owners don’t properly police other people’s use of their trademark. Subzero’s lack of monitoring and enforcing will most likely place the term in the public domain that it becomes generic by way of the Murphy Bed. Other trademark owners fight very vigorously to keep their trademarks from ending up being generic like Kleenex and Band Aid.

    September 25th, 2012 at 3:35 pm

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