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Domain and Trademarks and Brands. Starting point here.

Discussion in 'Legal Issues' started by vangel, Mar 30, 2013.

  1. #1
    I see a lot of questions about "can I have this domain? will I get sued?...etc"
    You cannot be sued for owning a domain you have registered.
    Having a trademark or Brand name doe snot automatically grant you a free domain name.

    Good starting point is this old but excellent article http://www.seomoz.org/blog/trademark-law-and-domain-names-acpa-or-udrp
    It is a bit long but look for the related post on the 1st intro para. You don't have to read all of it unless you are the one who wants to claim trademark etc.

    There was a time when some slimy folks decided to go around using the legal loopholes to takeover domain names. As a way of bypassing personal rights. That is old and no longer enforceable. Judgement has been passed, cases closed.


    Bottomline: If you are not intentionally cyber squatting or scamming/phishing no one can sue you for your domain. They could threaten you idly by, but end of the day its yours. Smarter brand/trademark owners will simply offer to buy your domain for a good price which you are free to reject.

    hope it helps.
    vangel, Mar 30, 2013 IP
  2. Dave Zan

    Dave Zan Well-Known Member

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    #2
    Actually, there are other grounds. At the top of my head, look up "cyberpiracy protections for individuals" and those involving the sale of counterfeit material. (albeit that one's debatable...)

    Although I understand the sentiment behind that sentence I quoted, it's just not absolutely and completely accurate. Search hard enough online, and you might be amazed at some of the things some people (or companies) crazily sue for in spite of the arguably lack of merit.

    If we're talking especially and specifically about trademarks, though, the essence behind that is what's called "likelihood of confusion." If a certain market has a likelihood of confusing your domain name with its trademark namesake, then that's where the TM holder might...might...have a ground to hold you liable.

    (Of course, that's for the TM holder to demonstrate if ever, although the more unique and/or famous ones have no problem with that.)

    What's not necessarily clear is the devil in the details, especially if trademarks using rather common words or phrases are involved. That's one reason why some lawyers typically say whether infringement, confusion, etc. occurs depends on "case to case", and that they need to look at each situation's details to better understand and advise accordingly.

    Bottom line: trademarks is just one aspect out of many out there that some people, unfortunately, can sue or file a dispute for if ever. And as if we got enough problems dealing with just trademarks alone.

    But if it's just trademarks some people here are worried about, then one question might help answer that: WHY did I register this domain name in the first place?
    Dave Zan, Mar 31, 2013 IP
  3. browntwn

    browntwn Prominent Member

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    #3

    You can be sued, even if it has no merit, so to pronounce otherwise is simply false. You might easily defeat the lawsuit but you still go through the act of defending a lawsuit - even if it has no merit. You simply cannot tell people they wont get sued and be taken seriously - because there is no such guarantee.

    It is far more important how you use the domain in question. You are unlikely to be sued for a domain that was registered but never used, but it is certainly possible. It is nearly always the usage of the domain that will lead to a lawsuit and not the mere ownership of a domain. Many companies threaten a lawsuit for mere ownership and I would agree it is highly unlikely - but not certainty that it will never happen.
    browntwn, Mar 31, 2013 IP
  4. avantemedia

    avantemedia Active Member

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    #4
    There is a little article here, which some may remember, about domain ownership. If you own a domain that another company has had or marketed for quite some time. It is still yours legally, especially if you have a .co.uk domain. Nominet have control of this to ensure legality is followed.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/11/06/microsoft_forgets_to_renew_hotmail/

    This was an almighty mess microsoft got them selves into, and really, the guy who helped them sort it out could of quite consivebly took mr gates to the cleaners.

    As for if you can be sued, yes you can but only if you break the law with what you put on, i.e you pretend to be a product that is under trademark!
    avantemedia, Mar 31, 2013 IP
  5. vangel

    vangel Active Member

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    #5
    Yes it is my mistake. Ofcourse you can be sued. I guess I was trying to say is you cannot be charged for simply owning a domain that has some trademark or brand associated with it.
    However domain disputes cannot be filed anymore (so cannot be sued technically for domain ownerhsip). You can file a defamation, libel, misrepresentation etc charges.

    Yes I checked this with a lawyer. Don't come in to tell me to I cannot be taken seriously. That is your own opinion. I am sharing what I have found out. Thank you.
    vangel, Apr 1, 2013 IP
  6. browntwn

    browntwn Prominent Member

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    #6

    You can be sued, domain disputes can be filed against you. You have cited a 5 year old article that does not even support what you are saying. Yeah, I think people should not take your post seriously.
    browntwn, Apr 1, 2013 IP
  7. vangel

    vangel Active Member

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    #7
    I posted a starting point for information. So far only one person has actually posted something useful (avantemdeia) with some resources. The post above and and of so called prominent members are sadly not useful.
    vangel, Apr 1, 2013 IP
  8. browntwn

    browntwn Prominent Member

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    #8

    We both have correct bad information both of you posted. That is actually helpful to people who might otherwise believe what you had posted.

    I am glad you found his 10 year old article informative. Someone voluntarily giving back a domain name did not really add much to the discussion.


    People get sued wrongfully all the time. They still need to defend themselves just to get out of the lawsuit. So, the notion that you can be sued "only if you break the law" is simply not true. That is usually the fact to be decided in a lawsuit. The reason things end up in a lawsuit is because both parties think they are right and their position is justified by the law.
    browntwn, Apr 1, 2013 IP
  9. Business Attorney

    Business Attorney Active Member

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    #9
    Unfortunately, that is not universally true either. Some people sue because they think a lawsuit will cause the other side to cave in, even when they know their own position is weak. Some people end up as defendants because they have knowingly stepped on someone else's rights and refuse to make things right until they are forced to.

    But your general point that anyone can sue is very true. Fortunately, most suits can be avoided by understanding the law and acting appropriately. There will always be gray areas and the more you avoid them, the less likely you are to get sued. The more you try to push into questionable areas, the more you invite the possibility of a lawsuit.
    Business Attorney, Apr 1, 2013 IP
    browntwn likes this.
  10. browntwn

    browntwn Prominent Member

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    #10
    Yeah, I realized I had over generalized and left out some other reasons people end up in litigation. The notion that it will force someone to cave due to the financial pressure is certainly a cause of litigation.
    browntwn, Apr 1, 2013 IP
  11. vangel

    vangel Active Member

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    #11
    I agree with attorney there. well sometimes a party will sue specially if they know they are wrong. They will go ahead and sue first. atleast in US that has been my experience (not related to domains though). They expect that other party will cave in, when you counter sue thats when you call their bluff :D
    vangel, Apr 2, 2013 IP
  12. mjw1201

    mjw1201 Active Member

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    #12
    Is it possible to get an LLC on domain or online "websites" to protect your own work and withhold from possible problems ?
    mjw1201, Apr 28, 2013 IP