Domain Name Aftermarket Buyers Beware!

Posted by Rosemary Brkopac on Sat, Jun 30, 2012

 Too good to be true usually is! Domain Name Trademark InfringementI know that many people will spend part of this gorgeous weekend at their computers, browsing domain registrar sites.  Their objective is to find, purchase and monetize a high profile domain name that has become available on the Domain Name Aftermarket.  These prospective registrants believe they can generate a lucrative revenue source for themselves by making a very small investment.  It sounds so easy on the registrar sites!

Remember the old saying anything that whatever sounds too good to be true probably is?  Well, this is one instance where that wisdom applies.  The problem with this scenario is the registrars don’t tell these “investors” that brand owners view the purchase and monetization of domains with their brand name in the domain as a violation of their trademark rights. 

Vigilant brand owners, many who have retained BrandProtect to monitor the presence of their trademarks on the Internet, will know about the registration immediately, and ask us to launch into action on their behalf.   I have clients that have marks registered with the USPTO as far back as the 1800’s.  To say that they are ferociously protective of their marks is an understatement, understandable and should be expected!  As owner, THEY have exclusive right to reproduce and use their trademarks, and authorize any reproduction and use.  

Each night BrandProtect scans the zone files, searching for any domains that have been registered using our client’s trademarks.   As we find them the registrant will receive a domain Cease and Desist notification.  This is where the panic sets in.  People write us or call in and say things like “I did not realize this was a legal issue.”  ….   “I bought that domain name from XXX registrar.  XXX registrar did not say that I could not have it because it was trademarked or was the intellectual property of YYY brand owner.   Why wouldn't XXX registrar know that”   ……    “I am sorry I ever registered this domain”  …… “You can be rest assured that no content or product of XXX brand owner s will be hosted.”    And then there is the response “Why won’t the brand owner purchase the domain from me to recoup my costs as I was allowed to purchase the name from XXXX registrar.”  Well they won’t because the registration of the domain as well as an attempt to obtain money for the transfer of the domain is banned In the U.S. by federal Anti Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, which provides for statutory damages of up to $100,000.00 per infringing domain and does not require the brand owner to compensate the registrant for the registration. The brand owner is not liable for any costs incurred, and will not submit payment in order to acquire a domain that the registrant has no legal rights to.

There are a lot of great ways you can spend the weekend, so now that you are aware I know you won’t spend it registering domain names with high profile brand names in them.   Trust me, you’ll be glad you won’t have to hear from us Monday morning.

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Topics: trademark issues, brand abuse, Domain Management, cybersquatting

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