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what are the rules for domain names after famous people and businesses?

Discussion in 'White Hat SEO' started by flc735, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. flc735

    flc735 Regular Member

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    i tried to do some research on this but came away very unclear. it did say it is illegal to buy a domain name of a person for the sole purpose of selling or trying to sell it to said person for a profit but it was very unclear about simply making the site and putting ads on it.
    for example: i buy jeremylinn.com, make it a bio site about him and put adsense on it. as long as i don't try to sell it to him, is that okay to do?

    as far as businesses go, what if i tried to buy the domain
    seveneleven.com
    7-11.org
    buyat711.net
    and monetized them somehow. is that okay to do?

    i know people do versions of this to sell to small businesses, but do the rules change when we are talking about a large company/chain/franchise with the branding stuff and all?

    im looking for the whitehat answer to this.

    i live in the US if that matters
    (7-11 is a convenience store chain. jeremy linn is a basketball player. these are just random examples off the top of my head)
     
  2. volund

    volund Senior Member

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    I am not an attorney but.......

    If it is a trademarked term then it is pretty black and white. You build the site and you will probably lose it as soon as you get it ranked. In some cases even quicker. Large companies really have to defend trademarks aggressively. The way the law is setup a failure to defend a trademark can cause a company to lose it. Companies have lost trademarks in court for not being aggressive enough in defending them but have never lost because they defended them too aggressively. That is why you see companies like Apple suing some mom and pop store even though it gives them bad press, if they do not they could very well lose their trademark and that would be a lot worse.

    Smaller local companies without a trademark I would guess it depends on what you do with the domain. If you try to represent yourself as the company or try to get money out of the company for the domain I would imagine you would then have a problem.

    As far as celebrities go that seems to be a pretty gray area. I have seen some fan sites that outrank the persons official site so it seems that if they could just take the domain most of them would. All those sites seem to make it clear that they are not the official site and have no relationship with the celebrity in question so it seems as long as you are clear about that you may be ok. I have heard of some celebrities suing and winning to get domains but have no idea of what the particulars were.
     
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  3. poweronics

    poweronics Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    That was really informative reply. Can you mention the law that is used by the celebrities for winning the domains please?
     
  4. flc735

    flc735 Regular Member

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    yes thanks for clearing that up for me.
     
  5. BigKahunaDream

    BigKahunaDream Newbie

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    Adding to an old thread.

    You can always check out the governments on-line patent and trademark look up tool to check for trademarks. Sorry, I can't post links yet, but search for the uspto gov site.
     
  6. BlackHatCams

    BlackHatCams Junior Member

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    Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA)

    Is an American law enacted in 1999 and established a cause of action for registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name confusingly a trademark or personal name (which could be a famous person). Check wikipedia.

    If your serious you may want to talk with a lawyer, I found these guys:

    Celebrity cybersquatting is becoming increasingly important. Traverse Legal's cybersquatting attorneys work with celebrities and their agencies to provide global online name and brand protection. If you are a celebrity, or agent working on behalf of a celebrity, who is trying to protect a celebrity name in cyberspace, feel free to contact one of our domain dispute attorneys for a free evaluation or call 877-647-4938 (international toll free).

    Hope this helps
     
  7. dotcomdesigns

    dotcomdesigns Power Member

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    The fact you are asking the question means you probably know the answer ;) You might get away with a few, some you won't. Take a look at Flippa, there's people on there selling sites with Microsoft and Google in the domain names! Anyone buying those is asking for trouble.

    I've got two products in domain names. One is above the manufacturer. Clearly they are not bothered as I'm selling the product for them anyway (via Amazon!) and their site is just manufacturers information, they don't sell directly to the public. I've had it 18 months without a problem, but you never know they might come after me tomorrow.