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.
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.