Oct23

Legal Aspects of Your Domain Name

“Domain names are like real estate properties- once you buy one, the value just increases over the time, and the resell value is sometimes even million-fold.”
– Ernie Hansen, Internet Marketing Expert

It is true that domain names are some of the most unique assets in the virtual world. Once you’ve registered one, you possess a one-of-a-kind property that you can keep for yourself or use as an investment. Take for example the Toys.com domain. Having cost the original buyer only a couple of thousand bucks, it was purchase by leading American brand Toys R Us for 4 million dollars in 2009.

However, picking a domain name is not that easy as it looks like. It depends on availability of the domain name of your choice, along with a stock of legal issues.

1. Do not piggyback: Noted companies have registered domain names for their products as well as names and logos. If you are seriously considering buying a domain, do not attempt to piggyback on established brand names. In 2000, computer brand Dell sued a number of companies for registering websites like DellSolution.com or DellComputers.com as alongside the products, the name ‘Dell’ is also trademarked by the company. If you’re not careful enough, you might find legal representatives at your door just because of domain names you picked.

2. Buy out copycats: In many cases, you might have a product registered to your name, while the domain name for that brand or product might have already been taken by other people. For instance, you own the rights to the brand ‘xyz’. If there is already a xyz.com registered out there, and you don’t have a legal team the size of Dell’s, the best way is to buy out the domain name from the initial buyer.

3. Stop cyber squatting: The phenomenon mentioned above is referred to as cyber squatting, when your desired domain names are already taken by other people. The best way to counter this is to register brand names or products beforehand, whether you have actually received the rights or not. Also, another good advice is to register all common variants of the domain, like xyz.com, xyz.net, xyz.biz and so on at the same time.

4. Register brand name variants as well: To avoid unnecessary legal hassle, try to register spelling variants of your domain name while registering in the first place as well. An infamous example of this is Facebok.com, a phishing site designed to look exactly like Facebook.com to steal user data.

5. Trademark your brand and product: While registering domain names for brands or products, attain trademark rights for the product or brand as well so that you have strong grounds when it comes to resolving disputes regarding domain names.

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