Cybersquatting – Stay Clear of Trademark Domains
Do not take Trademark research when investing in domains for money sites lightly.
Cybersquatting (also known as domain squatting), according to the United States federal law known as the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, is registering, trafficking in, or using an Internet domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.
You need to avoid Trademark Infringement when you choose a domain.
Buying Trademark Domains
If you own a trademark, you own the right to its domain.
If the domain name is registered already in bad faith by someone else, known as “cybersquatting,” you don’t need to pay to have the domain returned.
So when purchasing domains in the expired domain aftermarket research into trademark infringement is vitally important to check.
At ODYS they take this very seriously and make sure all domain names for sale have been thoroughly checked.
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Searching For Trademarks
First of all, Marcaria’s TM search and their database is a JOKE.
They report exact match TMs belonging to live and operating businesses as NOT REGISTERED, which is really bad intelligence to make an informed decision on.
There are 3 main sources one should bother with checking TMs before making a decision investing in a domain or simply choosing a brand name:
- USPTO.GOV – search-trademark-database (double check on all US TMs)
- WIPO.INT – reports worldwide, but doesn’t do a good job on UK TMs, that’s why we’re adding a 3rd official one
- TRADEMARKS.IPO.GOV.UK – the reason I’m adding this one is simply that we’ve noticed WIPO.int won’t always report on the UK trademarks properly and it’s better to check twice, just in case.
What Happens If You Purchase Trademark Domain?
Supermarket chain Aldi forced an SEO not only to shut down his website but to hand over his registered domain ilovealdi.co.uk without compensation.
These are the lessons for business owners and site developers to understand.
The domain ilovealdi.co.uk was run as a fan site for over a year before he received a 12-page takedown notice from the German-based retailer. The SEO claimed the site promoted the Aldi brand, highlighted savings, and provided a forum for visitors to share recipes using Aldi’s private brand products.
Despite his insistence that the site contained no advertising and was not run for personal gain, UK regulatory body Nominet deemed that the site took unfair advantage of Aldi’s trademark rights by using the company’s name in its URL.
In 1999, ICANN – the organisation responsible for overseeing and regulating issues relating to the Internet’s domain name system – implemented the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) to combat the issues of cybersquatting and trademark infringement.
Under UDRP, any person registering a domain must state that they have a valid right to the name and that the registration will not violate the rights of any third party. The terms also require an agreement to participate in the arbitration if any third party should make claims of infringement.
If you are establishing a new business, remember to research available domains first, as it is unlikely that you will be able to claim the rights to a domain if it was trademarked.
Recent Examples That Could Catch Out SEOs
The reason for the post is because recently in Facebook groups there have been some examples of domains on sale which could catch SEOs out if buying.
ThinkHeyDay.com belonged and was previously redirected to HeyDaySkinCare.com which is operational to this day and is owned by Heyday Wellness LLC, a US company.
‘HeyDay’ alone is a registered trademark by a bunch of companies in different verticals, markets, industries and countries out there. Now, if you would buy the domain and create a generic mom and pops blog talking about your cat and how you celebrated Christmas, most likely you won’t get in trouble, but if you invest in such a domain with the intent to review best skin care creams/products, rank your rich content site HIGH and make money, you are probably going to drag their attention and get in trouble.
At least you RISK BIG TIME doing so. Think about this when you eventually plan to flip the site for a 30x multiple. HUGE RISK. It’s not a risk worth taking even if you operate short term sites as blackhat IMHO.
The sports betting brand Betin has registered trademarks in place.
So on the face of it with traffic and backlinks the domain looks amazing value to purchase.
But legally the trademark owners can take you to court and get back their domain name.
Lessons To Learn
Investing in a domain like ThinkHeyDay.com or Betin is like investing in a domain like ThinkMcDonalds.com, or ThinkBMW.com, the only difference is that ‘HeyDay’ is not so popular on a global level as McDonald’s or BMW is, but trust me they have the legal leverage to get this domain of your hands if you aggressively start competing with them for the same SERPs in the same niche (skincare in this case)
The cap. for such domain is paid by domain squatters simply because they would pay anything less than $1800 USD for a similar domain, then list it for sale for under $2k. This is a method they use to blackmail existing companies into getting their domain back ‘the easy way’. The more difficult and annoying way would be to submit a UDRP via WIPO.int which costs $1500 USD paid in advance, not to mention the legal fees (which add up to a couple of grand).
So it’s cheaper for some companies to just pay the ransom and get the domain back. Most companies won’t be interested in getting it back unless you start competing with them, using their own previous domain and promote competitor products. But this is definitely not something most of us as affiliate marketers are interested in pursuing as a business model.
Please do your own due diligence research before buying TM domains and assess the risk accordingly since it really sucks when you have a well-performing site built on a trademark domain. It’s like building on a piece of land you don’t entirely own.
I do realize that most people don’t have the resources, bandwidth, team and SOPs required to operate and make decisions based on this type of advanced research, but it’s always better to just take your time instead of buying impulsively.
These high-value domains for sale is a pity considering that the best use would be using it as a PBN or 301, at best.
While I believe in giving away and helping people, sometimes the help we provide can be really detrimental to someone’s business.
Make sure if purchasing domain names to do your due diligence. We use ODYS because all these checks are put into place by the domain vendor.
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