What's in a name? Everything.
The right name is memorable, descriptive, and ideally evocative of positive feelings and connotations. The wrong name, however, can ruin a perfectly good business or product.
When it comes to domain names, there are a number of unfortunate examples, such as the site we cited last week, Who Represents? (whorepresents.com). Or take for example, Experts Exchange (expertsexchange.com). Because this domain name will be on business cards, promotional materials, and typed by customers, you'll want to be very careful when choosing it.
Picking a Name
Beyond nasty little misreadings, there are other considerations that you should take into account when picking a name. Pick something super short, or memorable, and it'll be a winner. If the name of the company, product, or lawyer is hard to spell, you'll probably want to stick to initials or descriptive terms.
What if it's Taken?
This is the tough part, and is where lawyers come in handy. If your desired domain name is taken, (you can check here, using the WhoIs tool), you'll need to do a little bit of research. One great tool is Domain Report from DomainTools.com. It will give you the history of the domain name, the registered owner, and other relevant information to help you determine if that person's ownership of the name is legal. This is especially useful for trademark attorneys fighting to protect a client's online brand.
Is the Name Fair Game?
When is domain ownership illegal? There are a number of ways in which cyber squatting or deceptive domain names can give rise to legal action. One example is deceptive URLs that redirect to obscene material.
Perhaps the most common however is through trademark infringement. If you or your client's trademark is being used as a URL for another company, competitor, or spammer, the trademark was registered before the URL name, and the domain name is not being used for a valid purpose, that could give rise to litigation resulting in statutory damages.
Some past examples include an entrepreneurial fellow who bought common misspellings of JoeCartoon.com and other popular sites and redirected the URLs to ad-based pages. He earned commissions off of sloppy searches for Joe Cartoon until he lost in court and was ordered to pay damages.
A Domain Report creates a thorough, customized report that provides access to nearly all domain ownership history on a single domain name registered now or in the past, including website screenshots and lists of connected domains on the same Nameserver or IP Address. In a matter of minutes, a report can be created on any single domain name and compiled into one professional PDF document. http://domainreport.domaintools.com/
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and compensation was provided by DomainTools.com. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of DomainTools.com.
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- An Interview With Ron Collins, CEO of Gavel & Gown Software (Part I: Amicus Cloud) (FindLaw's Technologist)
- Expect Bidding, Litigation for New Domains '.law' and '.lawyer' (FindLaw's Technologist)