Buying a Trademarked Domain Name

Webmasters and domainers from around the world are constantly looking to that premium domain name and setting up a website, which will attract tons of Internet traffic and generate a wealthy income by means of advertising programs or donations solicited from the website.

However, finding that premium domain is not as easy as many may think. It may often proof expensive and hard to come by. Driving traffic, to even premium domain names, may proof to be an even more cumbersome task.

The Trademarked Domain Name

Unfortunately, many webmasters and domainers resort to trademarked domain names, which often may proof to be successful in driving natural search engine traffic. These trademarked domain names are generally based on a product or service by a well-known company, something like BlackBerryTorch.com, GoogleUserForums.com or AppleApps.com.

The majority of uninformed webmasters or domainers often think they have hit the ‘jackpot’, not that they’re playing at casinoluv.net, when buying or registering such domain and invest large sums of money in setting up a related website. Some domainers may even ‘park’ the domain, where visitors will see a single page with a large number of related advertisements. Each time a visitor clicks on an ad, the webmaster or domainer will generate an income.

In the majority of instances, uninformed webmasters or domainers will attempt to resell trademarked domain names or websites at high values. Some may even contact the trademark holder in an attempt to sell the domain name or website back to them.

Trademarked domain names are not really that hard to come by, but they do have no resell value in the domainers or webmaster market where informed webmasters are aware of the impacts of owning a trademarked domain name.

What is a Trademarked Domain Name?

A trademarked domain name generally consist names or terms associated to a specific trademark. The domain name can also consist of a product or service related to a registered trademark.

One example of a trademarked domain is “pepsiforums.com”. This domain consists of the term “Pepsi”, which is a trademarked name.

Another example is “Torch9800.com”, which refers to the trademarked Blackberry Torch 9800 smartphone.

Although these domain names may drive tons of Internet search engine or natural traffic, they still remain trademarked domain names, and in reality the property of the trademark holder and not the webmaster or domainer who purchased or registered it.

In short, any domain name referring to any product or service, or even the trademarked name itself is considered a ‘Trademarked Domain’ for the purposes of this discussion.

Can Trademarked Domain Names be Registered or Purchased?

It is a fact that many trademarked domain names have not been registered. These domain names can be registered, although a number of domain registration companies may prevent the registration of trademarked domain names.

It is also a fact that trademarked domain names are advertised for sale all over the Internet on domaining and webmaster related websites.

In short, yes, these domain names can be purchased or registered. However, in reality, this is not advised at all.

The experienced webmaster or domainer will know that it is not a good idea to register or buy these domain names. Inexperienced webmasters or domainers will often find it difficult to trade in these domain names.

Can a Trademarked Domain Name be Taken Away?

The fact is the majority of large companies from around the world could not care less about trademarked domain names doing the rounds. As long as the domain has no impact on their business nothing will be said or done.

Once a Trademarked domain name starts driving traffic, which could have generated income to the company, actions will start.

Trademark holders will generally also start actions in taking back a trademarked domain when a person attempts to sell the domain back to the company.

Yes, in the majority of instances a trademark holder will get a trademarked domain name back, without the need of paying a cent to the person who owns, registered or bought the domain name.

How is a Trademarked Domain Name Lost?

Generally, the trademark holder may contact the owner of the domain informing him/her that the domain is infringing on the intellectual rights of the trademark. The company will request the owner to transfer the domain back to the company. In few instances, the trademark holder may offer the owner a registration-fee refund of the domain, but this is not necessary.

If the domain owner refuses to transfer the domain, the trademark holder may contact the domain registrar. In the majority of instances the domain name registrar will transfer the domain back to the trademark holder without the owner having a say in the matter.

In the event the domain registrar refuses to transfer the domain to the trademark holder, the next avenue will be WIPO. The trademark holder can launch a complaint by providing evidence of the trademark infringement. A hearing will be held and the domain name owner will be requested to prove his/her intellectual rights ownership to the domain. If this is not done, WIPO may make a ruling in favor of the trademark holder and issue an order to the domain registration company to transfer the domain.

In the majority of instances, the domain owner will not be in a position to prove his or her intellectual rights to the domain name, as there are none. The majority of domain owners generally claim that they are not infringing on the trademark as their website has no relation to the trademark. This is often rejected by WIPO.

In the majority of instances, especially where the domain owner generates income from parked domains or other forms of advertising, WIPO sees this as the domain owner benefitting from the trademark and will rule in favor of the trademark holder.

It is highly recommended that users visits the WIPO website and read some of the trademark infringement rulings, which are very interesting.

In the event a trademark holder is not satisfied with WIPO’s decision, they can still resort to a court of law or to the International court for arbitration. This is a step no domain owner wants to be involved in as this may proof to be an expensive exercise.

Am I Eligible for any Reimbursement for Expenses when a Trademarked Domain is Taken Away?

No. When a trademarked domain name is taken away, you will not receive a cent from the trademark holder. You have been infringing on the rights by buying, registering or simply owning such domain name.

A trademark holder may, in fact, pursue you civilly in claiming damages, although this is not something that is done every time a trademarked domain is taken away.

When a trademark holder has to revert to a court of law or even the International court, and win their case, the courts may hold you liable for all expenses related to the court hearing, as well as that of the trademark holder in regards to legal expenses, damages and more. This may end you up owing the company and a court of law thousands of dollars, if not millions.

Can a Trademarked Domain be Used Legitimately?

Yes, there are instances Trademarked domain names can be used legitimately and this is highly recommended for webmasters or domainers to abide by.

When you are interested in buying, registering or already owns a trademarked domain name, decide what type of website you want to start. Do a write-up of your plans, especially the type of website, the content you are planning on and whether you intend to start community-based services.

Contact the Trademark holder and send them the information, explicitly asking for permission in owning, buying or registering the domain and starting the intended website.

If you receive permission, in writing from the trademark holder, you know that you are in a position to own the domain and start the website. Trademark holders have given permission to many websites to make use of trademark domains. They may, however, require such websites to display clear alerts such as that the website is not affiliated to the trademark, etc.

If the trademark holder refuses to provide permission, you know that they will have taken the domain name or website in any event, the moment you started driving traffic to your website.

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