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Domain Name Hijacking!
by Mike Banks Valentine

Domain names are becoming "hot" property - as in *theft* for
resale. More and more companies are finding they cannot get
their trademarked names as a domain name because so few good
names are left. But sometimes it's outright extortion as when
a Fortune 500 company name is reserved by someone that
has no intention of developing a site under the domain, but
simply "parks" it somewhere and waits to be contacted by the
big boys to purchase the name for astronomical fees.

A more lucrative market for domain names exists in short,
memorable generic names like or which can
apply to an entire industry as can be seen in recent news.

One of the lesser known and more frustrating issues is when
a small business name or new product domain name is reserved
by someone hoping to make a buck or two. Here's a question
faced by small business owners getting started online.

"I've trademarked a name, but the domain name is taken,
it was reserved by another company right after I registered
my trademark. Do I have a legal right to the domain name?"

The following link is to a page titled "Domain Names,
A Trademark Owner's Nightmare"

It discusses legal issues and cites two cases that have been
taken to court over domain name hijacking.

People who do this may be doing it intentionally or innocently,
but generally, you don't have a case unless you've got a long
established use of the trademarked name and can prove that the
registrant was intending to extort excessive fees from you in
the hopes you'd buy the name back from them.

You can take it to court if you like, but it's not likely
to do you any good unless you can prove that the registrant
had the intent to squat on the name and not use it, hoping
that you would be willing to pay excessively to get it back.

Still, the case may cost you more than it's worth.

This is an unresolved battle with more and more companies.
Until laws are passed (not likely) there will be no way to
protect a domain name other than being the first one to
reserve it. You may have a case if they are harming your
business in some way by the inappropriate use of that name.
But if they are simply using for another purpose, you might
consider selling them the trademark instead. ;-)

Contact the registrant of to see who
it is, there's a way to find the registered owner by going to
this address and typing in the domain name.

It will return a registrant name, host name and the name
servers. You might consider contacting them and simply
explaining your trademark situation, your desire to own
the name and then simply ask if they would consider a
reasonable solution. Possibly something as simple as a
suggestion that you'd like to avoid a court battle and
make it worth their time to sell it to you by offering
twice what they paid for it.

If they have not spent large sums developing a branding
strategy for the name, they may be willing to give it up.
If it's only few months old it may be possible that they
haven't begun to develop their site or their strategy yet.
You may be assuming the worst but then be confronted with a
friendly and accomodating person willing to look for an
equitable solution!

Good luck with your own names and trademarks!
WebSite101 "Reading List" Weekly Netrepreneur Tip Sheet Ezine emphasizing small business online e-tutorial online at: By week's end you're ready expand your business to the web! --------------------------------------------------------
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July 26, 2001