Someone has registered a domain with my trademark. What do I do?

You will need to follow the instructions outlined in ICANN's Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP). Consulting a lawyer may also be useful in ensuring your case is as strong as possible.

Note, however, that even though you own the trademark, a domain squatter will still likely fight to keep the domain, since it was purchased in the first place to make money. Getting the domain name may be expensive, but if you own the trademark (or are a celebrity), you have a good chance of getting the domain from the squatter. Really, it comes down to whether it's worth the trouble to you.

Can I buy the domain I want from the owner?

Possibly. Certainly you can contact the person or company and see if they're interested in selling it. Be aware that the person who owns the domain is under no obligation to sell it, may want a lot more money for it than you're willing or able to pay, and may not be very interested in negotiating the price. Best to start off asking casually and generally if the owner would be interested in selling, don't share too much about who you are and why you want the domain, and be very polite.

As an interested buyer, really your only leverage is how much you're willing or able to spend, and your ability to walk away if you can't come to agreeable terms. It's always a good idea to have other options available to you.

Also, don't order business cards or marketing collateral with a specific domain name on them if you don't absolutely positively own the domain already.

How do I find out who owns the domain I want?

To find out who owns a domain, try a WHOIS lookup. Typically the contact information of the person who owns the domain will appear on the search results page.

Even if they are using a privacy service, there should still be an email address you can use to contact the owner, or at least a domain holding company. If a domain is held by a company wanting to make money on selling domains, they're probably going to make it easy to get a hold of them.

How much is the domain I want worth?

That depends on a lot of factors. There is no service you can check to see what a given domain should be worth. Any site that claims to tell you what your domain name or social media account is worth is just using some arbitrary calculation. They are just for fun and have no legal use or bearing on actual domain value or prices.

Any domain is worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it (assuming the owner is interested in selling at all). Note that some domain owners have pretty grandiose ideas about what their domain is worth, or think they can get rich quick off some desperate buyer.

There are many things that can influence the cost of a domain name. Some examples:

  1. the word(s) in the name are simple, clear and common, including standard spellings
  2. the word(s) is a recognizable person, company, product, etc. (i.e. don't expect to get "coke.com")
  3. the domain is already in use (as noted, there's a website, email addresses, etc.)
  4. the domain name is related to something that may become important in the future, e.g. an event, new product, etc.
  5. how badly the owner can tell that you want it
  6. how badly the owner needs or wants the money
  7. how much you appear to be willing or able to pay for it (e.g. there's a good chance that the price may be higher if a company wants a domain than if just an individual person does)
  8. the legal status of the domain (e.g. is it a registered trademark)
  9. the state of the industry or economy (e.g. during a tech bubble, like many things, domain name prices may become inflated).

Continue reading

This is part five of a six-part series to help you find your ideal domain name. Continue on to the next part or jump to another part in the series:

  1. Someone has registered the domain I want. Help!
  2. How do I pick a domain that people will remember?
  3. Why it's important to have you own domain and web presence
  4. What is domain squatting/cybersquatting?
  5. Someone has registered a domain with my trademark. What do I do?
  6. How do I find out if the domain I want becomes available?