Check For Trademarks Before You Buy Domains

I get emails from Domainers every week with huge lists of domains. As I’ve said before, I do respond to every single email my readers send me so I look at these lists and provide my honest, albeit quick, opinion. More and more I’m seeing new Domainers submit large lists of domains jam-packed with Trademark infringements.

I would say that about 99% of the time they don’t even know about Trademark infringement or the host of legal ramifications that come with it. Just the other week someone sent me a list with hundreds of names all with the name of a major software company in the domain. I had to break the bad new to them and let them know that their portfolio of “Premium” domains, was sadly a portfolio of high-risk Trademark names!

Lucky for all of us there are a few easy ways to check if the domain or website you are looking at buying contains any potential Trademark violations.

  • Automated Tools – you can do a quick check using tools like Estibot, Valuate, or our new Website Appraisal Tool – Appraiso
  • Do It Yourself – did you know that you can actually search the government Trademark database for free online? Just go to and select “Trademark Search” from the “Trademark” menu at the top. You can then enter the words in the domain name or website you would like to buy and make sure they are not infringing on any existing Trademark.
  • Hire A Lawyer – if you think a domain or website might be infringing on a Trademark but aren’t sure, that’s when you should hire a lawyer. Especially when it comes to making a large purchase you want to make sure that you are buying an asset, not a liability.

So next time you see a great domain that you think would be the perfect addition to your portfolio, take a second to make sure if doesn’t infringe on any existing Trademarks. If you are worried about people buying or registering domains with your own Trademark in them I highly recommend the Monitoring Services offered by Domain Tools.

Take the time, every time, and you’ll never have to worry about Trademark issues again!

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • March 20, 2012, 5:31 pm

    Hiring an attorney is the best advise.  I recently launched a new business and website and obtained some great advise from a trademark/copyright attorney.  I was beginning to head down the wrong path with a domain name, but was told that even though my name was different, it was similar enough to a previously trademarked name that it wasn’t worth the risk of starting up, gaining success and then having it taken away.  Great news is, I ended up finding a shorter, catchier, easier to spell, one word, seven letter name that is very brandable! 

    Those tools listed here a great first stop, but if your serious about cranking the use out of that domain and think you’ll have real success with it, hire an attorney who knows what they are doing  and they will do a more thorough search to insure your dream now reality doesn’t come crashing down in the future!

  • KarenBernstein March 21, 2012, 7:38 am

    I’ve been harping on domainers about this for years.  It is simply not worth buying a domain name that is going to cause you a major hassle (and major money) down the road.

  • Dave Zan March 22, 2012, 4:52 pm

    Another thing people should consider is why are they even thinking of registering that domain in the first place. If it’s to “ride” on someone’s established fame like Facebook, Google, etc., then they’re only setting themselves up for trouble.

    • Morgan Linton March 23, 2012, 3:20 pm

      A lot of time people don’t even know what is Trademarked. For company names everyone should know better but there are Trademarks on a lot of words and phrases that people would never think are trademarked that are.

      This is where people can get-into trouble without even knowing it!


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