VOL. 126 | NO. 125 | Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Plan Domain Portfolio
Douglas W. Schelling, Ph.D.
Whatever your business is, it is critical that you have a portfolio of domain name registrations that correlate with your business and its primary trademarks.
You must plan for success and doing so requires a significant presence on the Internet. Failure to plan for success now will result in more expenses later.
With success comes an opportunity for others to make money by grabbing onto your coattails. By owning domain name registrations, which are confusingly similar to your valuable trademark, cybersquatters or typosquatters make thousands of dollars in click-through revenues and significant sales commissions through “associate program” agreements.
You can stop them.
The least expensive way is to obtain a stable of domain name registrations now. The more expensive alternative is to pay a lawyer to prepare and file Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) complaints against each domain name owner who is exploiting a domain name that is confusingly similar to your valuable trademark.
The filing fee for a UDRP complaint is about $1,500, and that doesn’t include attorney fees. The nominal annual registration fee for owning a domain name registration – about $7 to $20 per year – is preferable.
The exposure you want to avoid happens when a company relies on only one or two domain name registrations when, in reality, it should have a portfolio of 10 to 20 domain name registrations.
When assembling your portfolio it may be helpful to consider the types of domain names that cybersquatters like to grab. Two common types of domain name registrations that are hijacked by people looking to make a buck are known as “misspellings” and “add ons.” An example of a misspelling is a domain name that adds an extra letter identical to the last letter of a well-known mark. An example of an “add on” is a domain name that is a trademark followed by a generally descriptive term describing the company’s business or goods.
When your business becomes a well-known money-making machine, don’t forget that others who are jealous of your success may attempt to take shots at your business in a public manner.
Such Internet gripe sites typically are formed by taking a trademark, placing the word sucks (or “sux”) after it, and registering that domain name. Depending on the content of this kind of gripe site, a UDRP complaint may have limited impact if such a website is truly offering commentary without any attempt to obtain financial gain from use of the trademark.
At some point you may want to sell your business. Buyers and investors will be pleased that you have a full stable of domain name registrations that can be used to further the business they are buying. They will also be pleased that you own the “sucks” domain name registrations so that others cannot undertake a campaign to injure the company.
Douglas W. Schelling, Ph.D., is a registered patent attorney and a member of the Intellectual Property and Technology Licensing Group of Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs LLP. He can be reached at email@example.com.