Copyright Infringement on a Domain?

38 replies
I received this email from THE TREADSTONE GROUP, INC.

Dear Mr. Hall,

I am writing to offer you $750 for the domain name xxxxxxxx, which is registered to you but lists the xxxxxxxxxxx email address as the website administrator.

If you wish to accept our offer, please either reply to this email and let me know, or feel free to start an escrow transaction with Escrow.com. We will pay the escrow fee.

Regardless of your decision, please kindly confirm receipt of this offer, so that I have assurance that you have had the opportunity to consider it.

The Treadstone Group, Inc. is the authority in security risk mitigation, and the investigation and acquisition of intellectual property rights worldwide.
I noticed that they were a copyright infringement company, so I was suspicious of their offer. So I wrote
I do purchase websites quite frequently, and this one is mine. I can't help my notice your company is an infringement protection company. What do you need from me? Have I infringed on a company with this domain?
His reply
Its not my decision whether or not you might be infringing, but I am willing to offer you a modest sum to assign rights to me.
I am very, very suspicious. Advice?
#copyright #domain #infringement
  • Profile picture of the author Floyd Fisher
    Contact a lawyer, and have him or her talk to the Treadstone group directly.

    This may just be a innocent offer to purchase a certain domain name, or it could be a dispute you can't win and would be advised to settle. If a lawyer calls them, they will direct him or her to the legal eagles and get to the bottom of it.

    Let us know what you find out.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3874012].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author humbledmarket
    Banned
    Wow it is a little suspicious perhaps inquire why they are looking to acquire the domain? Also it might be good to seek legal advise with this just contact some law office for legal consulation?
    You can also do additional research on their company and their tactics; or check out namepros.com: there are a lot fo domainers there who can help you better

    Lastly the important question; are you infringing any copyright with your domain?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3874053].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author jasonthewebmaster
    Banned
    You might want to do a copyright/trademark search and see if you are infringing anyone. If so, you can bet this is the reason.

    Search here:
    http://www.uspto.gov/
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3874116].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author cashcow
    Well I think the real question is .... does the domain make you money, is it worth more than $750 to you?

    Why are you suspicous? It doesnt sound like they are threatening you, they simply want to buy your domain for $750. I wish they would email me and offer $750 for some of mine

    Lee
    Signature
    Gone Fishing
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3874118].message }}
    • WHats the domain worth?

      Email does not seem threatening.
      Signature

      Do you need unique articles written? Let me write easy to read, flowing and informative articles that attract thoughtful comments. Unique Articles Handwritten

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3874965].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Rich Struck
    It doesn't sound particularly menacing, maybe they just want to buy the domain??? I think if you were infringing they probably wouldn't be so nice about it and they certainly wouldn't offer $750 for it.
    Signature

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3874988].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    Only you know if the domain name or any of the content is suspicious. Unless you hired out any of the writing you have nothing to hide.

    The shark contacting you probably has a client willing to pay five times as much as the offer. So if you're clean and know it ask for maybe ten grand and then negotiate from there.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875080].message }}
    • Originally Posted by travlinguy View Post

      Only you know if the domain name or any of the content is suspicious. Unless you hired out any of the writing you have nothing to hide.

      The shark contacting you probably has a client willing to pay five times as much as the offer. So if you're clean and know it ask for maybe ten grand and then negotiate from there.
      Thats what i was thinking. Shark is a perfect descripter. The company name scream of intimidation to scam you out of a domain.
      Signature

      Do you need unique articles written? Let me write easy to read, flowing and informative articles that attract thoughtful comments. Unique Articles Handwritten

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875109].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author E. Brian Rose
        Originally Posted by Handwritten Articles View Post

        Thats what i was thinking. Shark is a perfect descripter. The company name scream of intimidation to scam you out of a domain.
        How do you figure he is scamming? The guy never said a word about infringement of a trademark. He simply made an offer to buy a domain name. If he had stated that the OP has infringed upon a client's trademark and he was there to settle things, then even that would not be a scam, assuming it was true.

        It is most likely that he is trying to acquire the domain for a client and it is likely that the client's budget is greater than what he offered. Again, no scam, just business.

        If I am missing anything, please bring it to my attention. I just don't see him being a scam artist because of the name of his company.
        Signature

        Founder of JVZoo. All around good guy :)

        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875124].message }}
        • Originally Posted by E. Brian Rose View Post

          How do you figure he is scamming? The guy never said a word about infringement of a trademark. He simply made an offer to buy a domain name. If he had stated that the OP has infringed upon a client's trademark and he was there to settle things, then even that would not be a scam, assuming it was true.

          It is most likely that he is trying to acquire the domain for a client and it is likely that the client's budget is greater than what he offered. Again, no scam, just business.

          If I am missing anything, please bring it to my attention. I just don't see him being a scam artist because of the name of his company.
          "The Treadstone Group, Inc. is the authority in security risk mitigation, and the investigation and acquisition of intellectual property rights worldwide.

          Its not my decision whether or not you might be infringing, but I am willing to offer you a modest sum to assign rights to me."

          I dont want to get into a debate around the word SCAM. The non answer and the description of the company seems like a way to intimidating people to sell a possible valuable domain for a bargain price.
          Signature

          Do you need unique articles written? Let me write easy to read, flowing and informative articles that attract thoughtful comments. Unique Articles Handwritten

          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875169].message }}
          • Profile picture of the author E. Brian Rose
            Originally Posted by Handwritten Articles View Post

            "The Treadstone Group, Inc. is the authority in security risk mitigation, and the investigation and acquisition of intellectual property rights worldwide.

            Its not my decision whether or not you might be infringing, but I am willing to offer you a modest sum to assign rights to me."

            I dont want to get into a debate around the word SCAM. The non answer and the description of the company seems like a way to intimidating people to sell a possible valuable domain for a bargain price.
            That would intimidate me about as much as a mosquito playing the banjo.
            Signature

            Founder of JVZoo. All around good guy :)

            {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875177].message }}
            • Originally Posted by E. Brian Rose View Post

              That would intimidate me about as much as a mosquito playing the banjo.
              LOL What if the mosquito was playing the Deliverance theme on that banjo?
              Signature

              Do you need unique articles written? Let me write easy to read, flowing and informative articles that attract thoughtful comments. Unique Articles Handwritten

              {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875196].message }}
              • Profile picture of the author E. Brian Rose
                Originally Posted by Handwritten Articles View Post

                LOL What if the mosquito was playing the Deliverance theme on that banjo?
                Well, that would be a different story.
                Signature

                Founder of JVZoo. All around good guy :)

                {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875202].message }}
              • Profile picture of the author doorkicker13
                Originally Posted by Handwritten Articles View Post

                LOL What if the mosquito was playing the Deliverance theme on that banjo?
                I'd turn around and run probably.
                {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875255].message }}
                • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
                  I'm not seeing the problem here. If they were running some kind of scam, they probably wouldn't offer to pay through escrow.com.

                  Just because they are an intellectual rights company does not mean they are accusing you of anything. If they were, they'd probably have sent you a nasty letter.

                  It could be that they want to secure the domain name to guard against any potential problems.

                  For example, the SciFi Channel changed their name to Syfy not too long ago. Many years ago, a science fiction news site started on the web called the Syfy Portal. Obviously, the Syfy Portal was not infringing on Syfy because they existed before the SciFi Channel's name change. (If anything, Syfy Portal may have been able to go after Syfy...)

                  But, the SciFi Channel ended up buying out the rights to the name from Syfy Portal (for an undisclosed amount of money) to avoid any problems.

                  Something similar could be going on here. Your domain could be similar to something one of their clients has or wants. And they may wish to buy it to prevent any issues down the road.

                  Nothing suspicious or scary about that. They may simply be covering their bases.

                  And, the fact that they did not answer whether your site is infringing or not doesn't mean anything. It may not infringe upon their client's copyrights, but they cannot know whether or not you are infringing upon someone else's. Thus, the "non-answer."

                  So, it comes down to whether $750 is a fair price to you or not. If not, you could turn them down or send them a counter-offer. If yes, sell and be done with it.

                  If you are concerned about any legal issues, contact a lawyer.
                  Signature

                  Dan's content is irregularly read by handfuls of people. Join the elite few by reading his blog: dcrBlogs.com, following him on Twitter: dcrTweets.com or reading his fiction: dcrWrites.com but NOT by Clicking Here!

                  Dan also writes content for hire, but you can't afford him anyway.
                  {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875386].message }}
            • Profile picture of the author psresearch
              Originally Posted by E. Brian Rose View Post

              That would intimidate me about as much as a mosquito playing the banjo.
              I don't know. If it's really Treadstone, I recall that Jason Bourne fights a pretty mean fight.
              {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875593].message }}
          • Profile picture of the author Ben Gordon
            Originally Posted by Handwritten Articles View Post

            "The Treadstone Group, Inc. is the authority in security risk mitigation, and the investigation and acquisition of intellectual property rights worldwide.

            Its not my decision whether or not you might be infringing, but I am willing to offer you a modest sum to assign rights to me."

            I dont want to get into a debate around the word SCAM. The non answer and the description of the company seems like a way to intimidating people to sell a possible valuable domain for a bargain price.
            Good argument.

            I also just think they want to purchase the domain, like I said in my other post, it would've sounded more like a threat and they wouldn't offer you $750 for the domain. I just think they want to purchase your domain for a cheap price, then sell it 2x or even 3x more to their customers.
            {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875573].message }}
          • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
            Originally Posted by Handwritten Articles View Post

            the investigation and acquisition of intellectual property rights
            In other words, their business also involves just plain buying the rights to things that a client wants.

            Which is exactly what they are trying to do here.

            They're inviting you to use an escrow transaction. That will protect you from scammage. And they'll pay the escrow fees.
            Signature
            "The Golden Town is the Golden Town no longer. They have sold their pillars for brass and their temples for money, they have made coins out of their golden doors. It is become a dark town full of trouble, there is no ease in its streets, beauty has left it and the old songs are gone." - Lord Dunsany, The Messengers
            {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875689].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author doorkicker13
    Their website has a phone number.. call it. I'd personally try to get them to pay top dollar for the domain, unless of course it earns well for you.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875127].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Kirk Ward
    Maybe they have something in the works and want to clear the bases before they try to hit their home run.
    Signature
    "We are not here to sell a parcel of boilers and vats, but the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice."

    Dr. Samuel Johnson (Presiding at the sale of Thrales brewery, London, 1781)
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875128].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Ben Gordon
    The email doesn't seem like a threat to me. I think they simply want to purchase the domain from you.

    You should ask some of these questions before you agree/disagree with the offer.

    Is the domain currently making you money?

    Do you think it's worth more than $750?

    Regards,
    Ben
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875145].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author celente
      Originally Posted by Ben Gordon View Post

      The email doesn't seem like a threat to me. I think they simply want to purchase the domain from you.

      You should ask some of these questions before you agree/disagree with the offer.

      Is the domain currently making you money?

      Do you think it's worth more than $750?

      Regards,
      Ben
      yes, this is right.

      There was a guy over here in oz taht happened to. Gotta ask yourself is it really worth it.

      I think they are just after your name or something??
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875361].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Gail Sober
    I am willing to offer you a modest sum to assign rights to me
    I think the bolded part about sums it up.

    If they felt they already had rights, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be asking. Even when you asked directly, they did not answer the question. There generally is no confusion of their position when contacted by any business regarding potential infringements.

    Not an attorney but... just saying, having received a few of these throughout the years
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875544].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Kirk Ward
    Originally Posted by CDarklock View Post

    In other words, their business also involves just plain buying the rights to things that a client wants.

    Which is exactly what they are trying to do here.

    They're inviting you to use an escrow transaction. That will protect you from scammage. And they'll pay the escrow fees.
    You need to ask yourself why they want to get the name in the first place.

    Like I intimated earlier, they may have something in the works, to which you you are holding them hostage. If that is the case, you need more information so you can negotiate in an educated manner.
    Signature
    "We are not here to sell a parcel of boilers and vats, but the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice."

    Dr. Samuel Johnson (Presiding at the sale of Thrales brewery, London, 1781)
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875690].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      I'd call to find out if this person represents the Treadstone Group, Ind.

      Though the company is used in the email address and mentioned - I don't see him say "I represent....".

      I'd want to know before doing or saying anything - exactly who I was being contacted by.

      Its not my decision whether or not you might be infringing, but I am willing to offer you a modest sum to assign rights to me.
      Not "assign rights to Treadstone" but "to me"?

      IANAL - but this email would make me want to talk to one if I were considering the offer.
      Signature
      Saving one dog will not change the world - but the world changes forever for that one dog.
      ***
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875809].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Sparhawke
        Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

        I'd call to find out if this person represents the Treadstone Group, Ind.

        Though the company is used in the email address and mentioned - I don't see him say "I represent....".

        I'd want to know before doing or saying anything - exactly who I was being contacted by.



        Not "assign rights to Treadstone" but "to me"?

        IANAL - but this email would make me want to talk to one if I were considering the offer.
        Ooh, I missed that one...not like me but it is damned early here in England lol
        Signature
        “Thinking is easy, Acting is difficult
        And to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world ~ Goethe”
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875834].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author E. Brian Rose
      Originally Posted by Kirk Ward View Post

      You need to ask yourself why they want to get the name in the first place.
      Why does he need to ask himself that? If you had a boat sitting in your driveway and somebody called with an offer to purchase the boat, would you feel the need to ask yourself why they want to buy your boat? Or would you just consider the offer and answer appropriately?
      Signature

      Founder of JVZoo. All around good guy :)

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3889043].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Kirk Ward
        Originally Posted by E. Brian Rose View Post

        Why does he need to ask himself that? If you had a boat sitting in your driveway and somebody called with an offer to purchase the boat, would you feel the need to ask yourself why they want to buy your boat? Or would you just consider the offer and answer appropriately?
        A boat is worthless as a comparison. A boat can be considered as a fungible commodity whereas a name has the potential for more as a protected intellectual property.

        The uses of the boat are also limited and simple. It floats, you ride.

        The domain name "may" have intellectual protection value that is limiting the ability of the buyer to advance with a planned program.

        That was just a dumb analogy Brian. I'm open to a better one.

        In the meantime, the offer may be totally innocent, but because of the ability to protect an intellectual property, the additional information can help the seller determine whether he can gain an increase in sales price.
        Signature
        "We are not here to sell a parcel of boilers and vats, but the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice."

        Dr. Samuel Johnson (Presiding at the sale of Thrales brewery, London, 1781)
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3889204].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Sparhawke
    Personally I would take a look at the domain name and try to figure out what it sounds like, what it looks like and what could actually be done with it and who might take it...it may be that $750 is a good offer, but they wouldn't be offering that if they weren't making profit for their time.

    We all know the story of Microsoft offering to sell an operating system to IBM when they didn't have a damn bean; Bill Gates (and crew) simply bought someone elses for 50k which seemed a lot to the man in question and then went on to become the richest man in history.

    Tell them to give you contact details of the company wanting the domain name and you will cut them in, I am betting the profit to them will be far more than $750 lol

    If they don't do that then walk away, never accept the first offer, especially when you don't have all the details

    Gene Pimentel is quite good at this I hear, he has been selling to businesses for a long time but where is he on this thread? lol (hope he doesn't mind me dropping his name lol)
    Signature
    “Thinking is easy, Acting is difficult
    And to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world ~ Goethe”
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3875788].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    I'd figure out if the sale was a good sale for you at $750. If it is, sell it. If not, hold onto it. The only thing you need to be aware of when selling a domain from someone who has emailed an offer is the old domain appraisal scam. If they ask for an appraisal and give you a choice of two or three companies that they want you to appraise it with, run. They just want you to buy the appraisal from their company. Then you never hear from them again.

    You could be selling it cheap. From the Treadstone company

    Anonymous Acquisition

    The Treadstone Group acquires intellectual property rights on behalf of high-profile, high-net-worth companies and start-ups seeking to expand their trademark, copyright, patent, and domain name portfolios. Using the identities of any of our legally incorporated and d/b/a companies, we can establish the amenability of the owner to the sale of their IP asset; and then negotiate for, and acquire it on your behalf.
    It's quite possible a big company is interested in acquiring this domain. Treadstone will, of course, try to get it at the lowest price possible.

    You might consider making a much higher counter-offer.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3878541].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Gene Pimentel
    Exactly what Suzanne said. Only thing I would add to this conversation is, if Treadstone is in fact trying to obtain this domain for their "high-profile" client, they will keep trying. I would remain silent, and wait for them to approach me another time or two before responding. That will make it clear they are in a very profitable situation. Unless, of course, you really need the $750 right now.

    EDIT: Just to clarify, there is no such thing as copyright infringement on a domain name. I presume you meant trademark infringement.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3878594].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Gene Pimentel View Post

      Exactly what Suzanne said. Only thing I would add to this conversation is, if Treadstone is in fact trying to obtain this domain for their "high-profile" client, they will keep trying. I would remain silent, and wait for them to approach me another time or two before responding. That will make it clear they are in a very profitable situation. Unless, of course, you really need the $750 right now.

      EDIT: Just to clarify, there is no such thing as copyright infringement on a domain name. I presume you meant trademark infringement.
      I was reading a bit more on the Treadwell site and another service they offer is to acquire a domain that actually is infringing on a trademark and to acquire it at a cost lower than litigation costs. So it can go either way. It could be a company protecting their trademark or one that wants this domain to add to their trademarks.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3878617].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author clslaw
    A lot of speculation here. The fact is that you have an offer to purchase your domain, with no overt or implied threat of litigation. A "cease and desist" letter from a law firm would be a different story.

    Why would someone hire a third party to buy a domain? The answer is typically that they don't want you to know who is bidding. Maybe it's some guy named Wendel pounding a keyboard in his mother's basement that has a domain similar to yours and is willing to cash in his comic book collection so he can pay you $1,000 to get your domain. Maybe it's Big Bad, Inc. that wants the domain for whatever purpose and is willing to pay $20,000 or $50,000. You don't know. Using the third party company allows the buyer to stay anonymous which gives them an improved negotiating position because you just don't know who you're negotiating against. By your reply to the intermediary you have already told them that you are concerned that you may be vulnerable to an intellectual property claim - which they can now use in any future negotiations with you because you don't know the identity of the real buyer. Is it Wendel or Big Bad, Inc. with the fire breathing lawyers?

    Assume that litigation is being contemplated. As a lawyer who has been litigating cases in California for the past twenty years what I can tell you is that if this unknown party is thinking about a possible lawsuit, they are looking at spending six figures and even then they may not succeed. Litigation is expensive and uncertain. Also, you rarely ever want to lead with your best offer so my guess is that the $750 is an opening offer to gauge your interest in selling. If you were to accept that amount rest assured that Treadstone will be giddy because they are probably being paid quite a bit more to get the deal done.

    What do you do now?

    That depends on what you want to do. If $750 sounded like a good deal, great. I'd mail them back with a reasonable counter offer and see how much they're willing to move, let them pay the costs of transfer, and call it a day.

    Maybe the $750 is not worth considering and that this particular domain represents a much more significant value to you. Let's say you think it's worth $20,000, but you're willing to sell. Then I'd respond by thanking them for their interest and that while you might be interested in selling to the "right" party that the domain represents a much more significant investment than what has been offered. See if they come back and solicit a counter offer from you.

    What if you just want to keep your domain? It's yours. Keep it.

    But what if they sue? Like I said, lawsuits are expensive and uncertain. If you find yourself served with papers they will still be quite happy to pay you something for the domain because the cost of pursuing the lawsuit will be significant and comes with no guarantee of success. By the way, the just told you that the domain is worth tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to them...

    From what you have described I'm betting that your imagination - and the imaginations of a few here on the board - is getting the better of you. This does not seem like a big deal to me. Sell the domain if you want. Don't sell it if you don't want. If selling sounds good use a reputable third party escrow, let them pay all fees, and don't sign anything until funds are on deposit with the escrow company.

    Good luck. Relax.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3878982].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Black Hat Cat
      Banned
      I got an offer to buy one of my websites a few weeks ago, and the first thing that popped in my head was are they accusing me of violating copyright?

      Not.

      I'm going waaaaaay out on a limb here, but when someone wants to accuse you of a copyright violation, when they send you the email, they usually...cough cough....accuse you of violating copyright.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3879341].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
        Banned
        Originally Posted by Black Hat Cat View Post

        I got an offer to buy one of my websites a few weeks ago, and the first thing that popped in my head was are they accusing me of violating copyright?

        Not.

        I'm going waaaaaay out on a limb here, but when someone wants to accuse you of a copyright violation, when they send you the email, they usually...cough cough....accuse you of violating copyright.
        First, the OP incorrectly used the word copyright ... it's trademark infringement. The company mentioned in the email, Treadstone Group .... that's their business. They perform two services. Acquire anonymously the domain for a client who wants it and acquire it for a client that already owns the trademark but wants to avoid litigation, if they can acquire it at a lower cost than litigation.

        So, if I got an email from Treadstone Group, I would first check for a trademark violation. If none, I would counter-offer at a much higher price because it is Treadstone's job, according to their website, to acquire the domain as cheaply as possible.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3879381].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author aboutusnow
    Hi everyone,

    Just wanted to give you an update on what I found. Turns out the company just wanted to buy the website.

    We worked out a good deal that I am pleased with and the transaction has been completed through escrow.

    The website was making no money for me - it just happened to be in a group of websites I purchased earlier.

    I appreciate everyone's input.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3895748].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    That's great. Glad this worked out for you.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3895790].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author jasonthewebmaster
    Banned
    Awesome! Glad you aren't getting sued LOL... did you get more than $750 for it?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4027128].message }}

Trending Topics