Domains for Startups: What is a UDRP?

Trademark

If you’re a startup founder who is just getting started with domain names there’s one topic you should understand right out of the gate. I’m talking about UDRPs, and while it may sound like some completely meaningless acronym that you don’t have to worry about, it’s something that could cost you thousands of dollars if you don’t take the time to learn about it.

Most startup founders don’t read blogs about domain names so in many cases the term UDRP never comes up. Having known more founders than I can count on one hand that have had to deal with UDRPs I can tell you it’s an important term to know.

So what is a UDRP?

UDRP stands for “Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy” and it is regulated by ICANN, which you also might have never heard of. ICANN is a non-profit organization that regulates domain names and they setup the UDRP process to resolve domain name disputes. What you might not realize is that if you register a domain name with a Trademark in it, the Trademark holder can legally take the domain name from you using the UDRP process.

Of course this can work in your favor. Let’s suppose your startup is called Blingo and you built a groundbreaking augmented reality game that becomes more popular than Pokemon Go. You raise millions of dollars and life is good. Then someone goes out and registers BlingoGame.com and puts a confusingly similar website on it that tricks people into thinking they are on your website. You can get this domain back using the UDRP process with the help of a good domain lawyer.

How can you avoid a UDRP?

Most UDRP’s are the result of Trademark infringement which means when you buy a domain name for your business you should make sure you are not violating any existing Trademark. While I’d recommend hiring a Trademark attorney to look-into anything you are super serious about you can always do a quick search for free on USPTO.gov.

What’s next?

That’s all the basics. Honestly, knowing just this can save you thousands of dollars or help you get a domain name back that infringes on your own valid Trademark. If you want to read more about real UDRP’s I recommend taking a look at UDRPSearch.com which tracks UDRP’s and can shine some light on why these happen and some good examples of real proceedings and decisions happening right now.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Joe July 26, 2016, 12:19 am

    Good reflection for newcomers Startup.a this market surprises for those who are not in the same, but better for those who start their bumpy road that stumbles who can be harmed or benefited by this UDRP’s so famous.

    I now I’m writing several posts before publishing my blog,

    In this lake path I have without being a startup in the US have stumbled many times but as an example in several domains parking have what the antidote of the UDRP is usually it said.

    Reply
  • Edward Zeiden July 27, 2016, 10:30 pm

    Great article, Morgan! Many domainers underestimate the importance of learning the basics behind a UDRP. If domain name investors need another resource, there’s always the legal forum on NamePros that you can ask for advice: https://www.namepros.com/forums/legal-discussion.229/

    If the name is priceless, don’t take chances. Hire an experienced domain name attorney!

    Reply
    • Morgan July 28, 2016, 8:02 pm

      Thanks for sharing @Edward!

      Reply
  • joe July 29, 2016, 4:27 pm

    @Edward I like his commentary in legal matters are too annoy any registrar but can not because any US attorney relates to registrars best. a free forum to solve a trap in domain names, I discover but I will go legal affairs of a forum, or hire a lawyer that all be bought by the big guys may be one in a thousand to be honest but the trip comes a day or another, I have experience with Moniker.com since 2008, Morgan is true or not, make a comment to Edward of what must never do, boast of justice in this market where very few succeed.

    Reply

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