Using brand name in a domain (risky or not)?

by xaron
43 replies
I'm contemplating using a trademark as part of a domain. Do people get slammed if they do that, if it's a not-for-profit site? I had a look at starwarsmodels.com - The Star Wars Model Kit Gallery - Home and not only are they using a TM but they're monetizing it with Google ads. They haven't been shut down though and have been around for 10 years.
#brand #domain #risky
  • Profile picture of the author ArielT
    Maybe nobody could tell you about the reasons of some exeptions, but I think better not doing similar things
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    • Profile picture of the author rajivkumar900
      they might have written permission, second thing its depends on 2 factors.
      1. you might face copyright or trademark issue (Directly from the owner company)
      2. you must check terms and condition of affiliate program
      Are they allow TM or brand name in main domain..for example amazon affiliate program dont allow this..so if you do this then surely you will get banned from their associate program so before using it just make sure you wont see both problem..if both are ok then you are ready to go otherwise stay away ......

      Rajiv

      P.S: Tip: if you want to target people with brand name just use it in your post or page url or in your website content...there is no harm and you will get same results...
      Thats what i do and didnt found any problem yet.
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  • Profile picture of the author wolfmmiii
    Yes, it is risky.
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  • Profile picture of the author vCr8
    Definitely, using brand name with trademarks can put you in trouble. I opted to avoid such and just settled with using the brand name on the pages. I feel like it works better for searches, this is because most people never look at the domain name, the initial attention is just at the page name and description.
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  • Profile picture of the author pennyroll
    I thought about doing that years ago and although many never have a problem, you never actually own it. If you become successful it's one small easy step from being taken away.
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  • Profile picture of the author Manoj V
    It is necessary to check for copyright before using domain names similar to brands or products. Companies may choose to sue you or may not sue everyone who may be using their name. But if they do you may be liable to pay unbelievable amounts as damages. Hence it is not worth taking a risk. As they say, "Better safe than sorry!"

    To check copyright you can go to "http://cocatalog.loc.gov" and type the name that you are considering.
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    • Profile picture of the author xaron
      Originally Posted by rajivkumar900 View Post

      P.S: Tip: if you want to target people with brand name just use it in your page url
      That's an interesting point. Can anyone else verify if this is correct?
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  • Profile picture of the author BloggingPro
    Star Wars is a bad example. Lucasfilm is not really known for going after fan sites that use its trademarks as long as they don't disparage the trademark.

    On the flip side of that coin you could register a domain name that contains a trademark and that company could very well come chomping at the bit to shut you down.

    Finally. I don't build my online income on "exceptions" rather I find comfort in building them on solid ground. For those who have monetized a trademarked domain name and are contacted by a company to "cease and desist" then calling a lawyer is your best course of action.

    BP
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  • Profile picture of the author Lakshmi SEO
    Two years ago I registered domain with brand name ( ebay) ebayauctionsnow.info.

    After few days I got this mail from Ebay

    Your Domain Registration ebayauctionsnow.info [Case #5487]


    We have noted your registration through the local Internet registry in your country of a domain which incorporates the trademark
    EBAY. While we realize that you likely registered the domain with the best of intentions and without awareness of the law in this area, we need to inform you that use of that domain is problematic.

    eBay does not permit use of its trademarked name EBAY in a domain name.

    Such use is in violation of international intellectual property regulations and the trademark laws of many countries worldwide.

    Additionally, arbitrary use of the word BAY in a domain is problematic if the connected website is used in association with a business making use of eBay or operating in the same sphere of business as eBay.

    eBay adopted the name and trademark eBay in September 1995 and, since that time, eBay has actively used the eBay name and trademark in connection with its online trading and related services, including maintaining the web sites www.eBay.com, www.eBay.de, www.eBay.co.uk, and others in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and worldwide. The coined term eBay is one of the most famous trademarks on the Internet. eBay owns exclusive trademark rights to the eBay name in many jurisdictions internationally, including related common law rights. Accordingly, eBay enjoys broad trademark rights in its name.

    eBay has made a substantial investment in developing and providing its services. As a result of eBay’s pioneering efforts and its devoting substantial effort and resources to providing only high quality services, the eBay name and trademarks are widely known among the consuming public worldwide, and the name and trademarks embody substantial and valuable goodwill.

    Please review the following links for further information regarding eBay trademarks:
    http://pages.ebay.com/help/community/tm.html
    http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/trademark.html

    While eBay respects your right of expression and your desire to conduct business on the Internet, eBay must enforce its own rights in order to protect its valuable and famous trademark. For these reasons, and to avoid consumer confusion, eBay must insist that you not use the domain name for any purpose, do not sell, offer to sell or transfer the domain name to a third party, and instead simply let the domain registration expire. In the meantime, the domain name should remain inactive and should not point to any content.

    Please confirm in writing that you will agree to resolve this matter as requested.
    Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation.

    Best regards,

    Edith
    eBay Inc.
    Legal Department

    This is my experience, it is not very advisable to use a popular brand name in domain or else you might face lose of money ( at least little) like me.
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    • Profile picture of the author Aarav
      If you are thinking about to use brand name in domain then must want to stop you from doing this things because its risky that effects very bad for you. So, please avoid it for better results.
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  • Profile picture of the author xaron
    All very interesting. I'm still curious about the use of a brand name in "any" part of the url though (such as a subdomain).
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    • Profile picture of the author davezan
      Originally Posted by xaron View Post

      All very interesting. I'm still curious about the use of a brand name in "any" part of the url though (such as a subdomain).
      Sub-domain is (currently) fine, although it ultimately depends on who you might
      deal with like the trademark holder.
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      David

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      • Profile picture of the author Eelco de Boer
        Got a letter from The Donald for using DonaldTrump.nl

        Wasn't a nice letter though

        Eelco
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  • Profile picture of the author WebDomain
    TM - it's always very big risk
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  • Using a brand-name is very from what i know there are companies running the internet looking for stolen brand-names or the like.
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  • Profile picture of the author Leveragist
    Why take the chance? If the site really takes off, do you want to worry about it being taken down?

    Write about them and use the trademarked name in the URL, but not domain name.

    Example: www. widgetshq.com/all-about-TRADEMARKEDNAME-widget
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
    YES! You can use a trademark in a domain. In fact, you can always use them...as long as YOU are the trademark owner. Other than that, it's not a good idea.

    All the best,
    Michael
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  • Profile picture of the author Leveragist
    It goes without saying that you can use your own trademark.

    But I'm pretty sure he meant a trademark that he DIDN'T own, therefore the Star Wars example he used.
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    • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
      Originally Posted by Leveragist View Post

      It goes without saying that you can use your own trademark.

      But I'm pretty sure he meant a trademark that he DIDN'T own, therefore the Star Wars example he used.
      LOL. That's the risk I take when trying to use "humor".

      My point is simple: If you don't own the trademark, then don't use it.

      All the best,
      Michael
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      • Profile picture of the author Leveragist
        Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

        LOL. That's the risk I take when trying to use "humor".

        My point is simple: If you don't own the trademark, then don't use it.

        All the best,
        Michael
        I have a difficult enough time with humor in person, much less online/in writing.
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  • Profile picture of the author mosthost
    You want to put the trademark in there so the site is easy to find in search engines. Guess what, the legal teams for trademarks also use search engines. Plus they get Google Alerts.

    They'll send you a C&D in no time.
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    I wouldn't risk it. Pick another domain and do marketing. Marketing is the most important part anyway. I know you may be going for something close to exact match domain name, but you can still earn tons without using a brand name in your domain name.
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  • Profile picture of the author GforceSage
    If it is not a company or product that has been around a while, the company still has rights to their own name, but might be too new to be much of a legal player. People get around this by using the word REVIEW in their site. You are not saying you are part of (pick a name) " TurboLover," (for example) you are providing a service (And affiliate link) by reviewing the product in a favorable light with TurboLoverReview.com. It is up to the owner of "Turbo Lover" to either leave you alone since you have a nice review of the product and are making each other money or they can choose to distance themselves from you and their product whether it is a bad or good review because it might make them nervous that some day you could turn on them if something goes wrong. When you gamble, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Good Luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author cjreynolds
    Originally Posted by komplex View Post

    ie. paypalproducts.com = illegal.
    ie. paypalsucks.com = legal

    You can only legally own it if you're using it for people to share freedom of speech on.
    I think the "rule of thumb" is, if it would lead a typical user to believe the site was owned or sanctioned by the company (paypal, etc.), then it's an infringement.

    Some will see "paypalproducts.com" and think it's an official paypal site, therefore it can be pursued as an infringement.

    No reasonable person would see "PayPalSucks.com" and think that paypal owned that site, lol! Therefore not an infringement.
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    • Profile picture of the author Be Brain
      It is not good idea to use a 'brand name' of company in your domain,
      I heard, if they known, you will face the trademark issue from the company,
      ussually they will email you about the domain name, and ask you not to use it regarding on the law issue.


      Regards,
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  • Profile picture of the author think more
    it is risky
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  • Profile picture of the author eugenedm
    It's very risky to use a brand name in your domain. I wouldn't go there without weighing the pros and cons. Just remember, you can get sued or your website can be taken off when you use a brand name in your domain.
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  • Profile picture of the author xaron
    What about using part of a brand name (e.g. "Trek" from Star Trek)? Is that okay or can they get you on a technicality?
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  • Profile picture of the author ArielT
    Since I assume you are looking to use that term or another to promote this or something related to that, you shoudn't use a part either

    But you could in a name article, don't you think it is a better idea? use a general term in tehe domain for your niche that also would extend the range to add more things. I mean, supposing you want to create a niche for game consoles, don't choose the word playstation, choose game consoles insted (just an example) Of course I'm refereing to a domain name
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  • Profile picture of the author whyu76
    Hi,

    my oppinion is not to use the brand name as domain name. Possible to use www.swmodels.com? When come to SEO part only compete with them the keyword like star wars.
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  • Profile picture of the author seoblast76
    If you are trademark owner then its good to use it in URL. Also to use brand name in domain is very effective for your brand recognition.
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    • Profile picture of the author ArielT
      Originally Posted by seoblast76 View Post

      If you are trademark owner then its good to use it in URL. Also to use brand name in domain is very effective for your brand recognition.
      The problem is that he/she isn't the owner
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      • Profile picture of the author thesnakeman
        We recently killed off an internet site that was using one of our registered trademarks for the same kind of business as us.
        Last year in May we killed off over 800 youtube channels where a bootlegger of one of our trademarks was ripping us off and creating backlinks to divert our clients to him.
        In summary best not to muck with owners of trademarks.
        All the best
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  • Profile picture of the author DotComBum
    If you use a brand name for profit, it's a big no no, if it's not for profit, it's better to seek permission before you go ahead.
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    • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
      Originally Posted by DotComBum View Post

      If you use a brand name for profit, it's a big no no, if it's not for profit, it's better to seek permission before you go ahead.
      Whether it's for profit it or not makes little difference in being sut down. It may make a difference in how much you get sued for, but that's about it.

      All the best,
      Michael
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      "Ich bin en fuego!"
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  • Profile picture of the author Yildiz
    Using a brand name in a domain will usually not end with you losing the domain but it has definitely happened a few times to me I wouldn't recommend it!
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  • Profile picture of the author Mary Davis
    Let's turn the tables here - you are the owner of a popular enterprise of which your brand name is trademarked.

    Would you want others siphoning off your success? I know I wouldn't.

    The only people I've seen somewhat open and accepting of the practice is IM'ers with a product launch who don't seem to mind other IMer's using it -- those who find every possible variation so they can give their COMPLETELY HONEST AND UNBIASED REVIEW (tongue firmly in cheek).

    Whether you should go for the domain with a trademark in it depends entirely on your tolerance for risk. If you're willing to work hard to build your site only to have it snatched from you one day, then that is you choice -- just go in with eyes wide open, and know what the worst-case scenario is.
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  • Profile picture of the author rkcc4
    Don't do it, even if you got away with it for a while, they could come and take all your hard work. I have done it and even forgot once only to have lawyers on my back.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      That's an interesting point. Can anyone else verify if this is correct?
      Sometimes you get by with it - and sometimes you don't. It depends on how closely the trademark owner guards his trademark. I've used trademarks in page titles and file names on sites - usually ok but was told to take a couple of them down.

      Any time you use a trademark name to promote your site/your stuff/yourself - you are on thin ice. The trademark owner has protection - you don't.
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  • Profile picture of the author mosthost
    Ask a lawyer. They'll tell you.
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  • Profile picture of the author SeoDemon
    no you can't, it will get you in trouble, happened to one i know
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  • Profile picture of the author IMLearningIM
    Using Brand name in domain can be risky. It may be harmful.
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  • Profile picture of the author EricJames
    The best bet would be to ask the company first before doing anything. Make sure you get it in writing from the company that you have their permission to use their name. This will help to eliminate legal battles between you and the companies.
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