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Should I Register a Trademark Domain?

trademark infringement
There are some Internet Marketing courses floating around that advise you to register an exact match domain name for trademarked products to promote those products. There are numerous reasons why this is a bad idea.

The number one reason why it is a bad idea is that using a company’s trademark can get you into trouble with the company that owns the trademark. They can send a cease and desist through their legal department, they can sue you for big money or they can file a UDRP to get the domain from you.

Of course, there are legal uses for trademarked domains, but you would need to hire a trademark attorney to determine that for you to avoid trouble. There’s parody and fair use, but most of the time, your use will not fall under either one of these if you plan to use it for commercial use.

One place on the Net to check for US Trademarks is TESS. You can check for international trademarks here. It’s still a good idea to get a trademark attorney to search for you, especially if you are creating a long-term brand and want to be absolutely sure there are no trademarks on the name you choose, but these two sites are good for a quick check for trademarks.

There are occasions when a company that owns a trademark will allow you to use their trademark. It never hurts to contact the company and ask them for permission and get it in writing if they allow it. It’s the quickest and safest way to find out if using a trademark will be safe.

Another reason not to use trademarks in domains is that quite a few affiliate programs, like Amazon for instance, does not allow you to promote their products with trademark domains. They will close your account right up if you use one.

There are other types of trademark infringement that are also a bad idea. One of those is called Cybersquatting.

Wikipedia: 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 a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. The cybersquatter then offers to sell the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price.

This not only includes a company brand name, but can include celebrities names and typo domains where the misspelled domain is very close to a trademark.

One thing I hear frequently in forums is “there’s a million domains registered with iPad in it.” Don’t take that for permission to use Apple’s or anyone else’s trademark. They’ll get around to you sooner or later. Most companies that have gone to the trouble of registering and getting a trademark, are going to do what they need to do to protect that trademark, so don’t be stupid. Either hire a trademark attorney or just don’t register trademarked domain names.

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