Legality of domain name

14 replies
How's it going? Some background...I own a website based on an Internet personality. The domain name is her real name followed by dot com. The site just has a bunch of photos and information. Everything is tasteful. It is an Adsense site though. A few months ago, the traffic on the site went up about 1000% overnight and has continued to grow. I discovered the cause was theres a new TV show on a cable network that she stars in.

Now my concern is that they're gonna want this domain eventually. I don't know my legal rights to be able to negotiate or is it going to be taken from me. I'm not a cybersquatter. I've had this domain for about 3 years. I started it because I wanted to make a couple bucks on Adsense. Im a total newbie.

Any ideas what I can do with the site? If it's going to cause me a headache, I'd rather sell it but I also don't want to miss out on any opportunities that this domain might bring. Since I own the domain, can I do whatever I want with it? Say if I want to sell it. Can I put it on flippa without any repercussions? I hear reaching out to the person who's name is in the domain to try and sell it is considered cybersquatting... Not sure what I can do.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Thanks
#domain #legality
  • Profile picture of the author Rich Struck
    Doesn't owning someone else's name make you feel like a loser and/or a jerk? It should.
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  • Profile picture of the author footfoot
    I wouldn't sweat it. If they want it, you'll hear about it and then just give it to them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Gordon
    Originally Posted by guitarplayer1977 View Post

    I'm not a cybersquatter.
    Yes, you are.

    If you registered it based on someone else's merit, and have no legitimate, independent claim, you are the dictionary definition of a cybersquatter.

    The traffic you have been getting does not belong to you, and if she chooses to take action, it is very possible you could lose the name, plus any money you have ever earned from it, plus possibly even her legal fees.

    I am not saying this WILL happen. But it certainly can, and you have no defense.

    I am not an attorney. Maybe you should consult one.
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  • Profile picture of the author guitarplayer1977
    My intentions were always just to make a fan site and put some adsense on it. I didn't think she would take off like this. I'll see what I can do to get the site back to it's "owner".
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  • Profile picture of the author anwiii
    a site that is a little similar to your own situation is nissan.com. take a gander as it's an intesting read. i got the sense from what i read that the owner of the site would have had his site shut down leagally and forced to pay out of his own pocket if nissan wasn't his actual name.

    i'm no lawyer so wont be giving any legal advice here today but i would tread lightly when you are making money off someone elses name with the name in the actual domain and not a sub domain or directory

    if you don't know what to do with the domain, then you might want to show this person the traffic and offer her a price for it....or her manager
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    • Profile picture of the author guitarplayer1977
      Thanks Anwiii. I will look for that article. I don't want any trouble. I would just give her the site if she wants it. Some of the comments on this thread scare me. I didn't originally register the domain. I bought it on site point or some other site cheaply. I don't remember where. I will see if I can contact her and offer her the site. Just to be clear, the Adsense money coming in is not a lot. It's a few dollars per day. Less than $10. And that's just recently. Before that it might have been .25 cents a day if I was lucky. There's no big money here. I want to get rid of it before she gets too big.
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    • Profile picture of the author SunilTanna
      Originally Posted by anwiii View Post

      a site that is a little similar to your own situation is nissan.com. take a gander as it's an intesting read. i got the sense from what i read that the owner of the site would have had his site shut down leagally and forced to pay out of his own pocket if nissan wasn't his actual name.

      i'm no lawyer so wont be giving any legal advice here today but i would tread lightly when you are making money off someone elses name with the name in the actual domain and not a sub domain or directory

      if you don't know what to do with the domain, then you might want to show this person the traffic and offer her a price for it....or her manager
      nissan.com is NOT the same.

      As I understand it: the owner of nissan.com is actually called "Nissan", and ran a computer business (not a car business) even before the Nissan car business existed. Plus there's a complicated history to the dispute, which is highly specific to that case.

      Here we aren't talking about somebody using their own name - but somebody using somebody else's name.

      Look at domainnamewire.com and I'm sure you can find many UDRP & court cases which are far more similar.
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  • Profile picture of the author dustinthigpen
    Wow, Can I be honest here? If it was me I would want to hang on to it and see how much it grows!
    FYI, THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. lol

    If I sold it, I would always wonder how big it could have grown. Just sayin...

    I'm not saying you should keep it, I'm just saying to consult with a good attorney before you make a rash decision.
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  • Profile picture of the author guitarplayer1977
    Haha Dustinthigpen! I know... But better safe than sorry later...
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      No one has mentioned a simple question:

      Is the name trademarked? Did you check?
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      • Profile picture of the author guitarplayer1977
        I haven't... I just checked. Her name is not in the database...
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    This sounds like something that you will be constantly looking over your shoulder for. Drop the site and sell something different. Don't deal with the stress of whether or not to keep the site. Sounds like you're attached to it, and the results thus far. It's not worth it.
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  • Profile picture of the author TrafficFlow
    At a minimum I would put a disclaimer page on the site advising that this is a fan site devoted to _______ celebrity and is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by ____________ celebrity.
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