Be careful – that expiring domain you’re buying could come with Trademark trouble

For domain investors, buying expired domains is one of the best ways to acquire domains at wholesale prices…the challenge is, even the most well-respected marketplaces in the world don’t check to see if the inventory they’re selling infringes on any Trademarks.

I was looking through expired domain name listings on Go Daddy and found a domain that is seeing quite a bit of interest but that IMO is a clear Trademark violation – the name is Windows64.com.

windows-64-auction

Note: I am writing this post on Friday and scheduled it for Saturday. Right about now I am backpacking in the middle of the woods in Northern California! This means that if you look at the auction now…it probably has even more bidders.

It should come as no surprise that Microsoft has a Trademark on Windows and yes, Windows does have a 32 bit and 64 bit version so it’s going to be pretty hard for the new owner to tell Microsoft’s lawyers that this isn’t infringing. Now if this was WindowsForLess.com or WindowsForCondos.com, maybe you’d have a shot, but this is a tough one.

That being said as you can see, it’s on Go Daddy, the biggest domain name company in the world, and they will make money on this auction no matter what. I’ve heard people in the past say things like, “well if the domain is listed for sale at a major marketplace, especially a public company like Go Daddy, then they must have done something to ensure it doesn’t infringe on any Trademarks.”

The answer here is no – marketplaces that sell expired domains aren’t doing a deep dive to make sure the inventory that they’re selling doesn’t violate any Trademarks. They are in the business of selling domains, not making sure that everything works out hunky-dory for you after you buy the domain.

So next time you have your eye on an expired domain, do your homework. Hop on over to USPTO.gov and do a quick Trademark search, it can save you a lot of pain and money.

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{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Nick June 23, 2018, 9:16 am

    I think in the year 2018 the technology exists to prevent the purchase of and resale of trademark infringing domain names. Certainly Go Daddy has the means to become a leader in this.

    Reply
  • Sigma June 23, 2018, 11:06 am

    I spoke with a GoDaddy rep and was told that even if alerted by a TM holder that a domain at auction is infringing on a possible TM; they will still push through the auction, pocket the money, and allow the NEW domain registrant to be UDRP’d or sued. How anyone can buy a domain name at the current Aftermarket prices in 2018 without doing a thorough Trademark search is beyond me.

    The registry look out for their bottom line, not yours… BUYER BEWARE.

    Reply
  • Jon Schultz June 23, 2018, 12:34 pm

    No domain name violates any trademark, in my opinion. The basis of trademark law is the prevention of confusion in the minds of consumers as to the source of goods, services or ideas which could impact a company’s reputation, and until a domain is used (if only by the registrar by default) no such confusion is possible.

    I think the best analogy for a domain is a book cover, and I could write a book with nothing but “Windows 64” on the cover, which could be a review of the 64-bit version, and there would be no trademark infringement as long as it was clearly and conspicuously stated, once you open the book, that I have no affiliation with Microsoft.

    With that said, it’s true that so-called trademark-infringing domains can not only be taken away from you under the ridiculous trademark-lobby-influenced policies of ICANN, but can land you a $100,000 fine per domain thanks to the draconian Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) passed during the Clinton Administration.

    Reply
  • Sigma June 23, 2018, 2:52 pm

    Reply
  • steve brady June 24, 2018, 12:19 pm

    Wow went to register TrademarkTrouble.com and a legal team in Minnesota created it in Aug 2016 redirecting to the firm.

    And check this out:
    http://www.ploen.com/trademarkdisputes/

    Reply

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