If I own a trademark can I get an inactive or dead domain name or URL?


Picture this: You’ve just registered a trademark for a brand that you’ve been working on for so long. It’s exciting. And now the only thing left is to register your domain name.

So you go to a domain name registrar with a perfect domain name in mind and you’ve guessed it, you find out the name has already been taken. Worse, the page is inactive or dead and you can’t reach the current owner.

So what do you do now?

Well, with over 1 billion websites on the web today, it comes as no surprise that a domain name want has already been taken. So it is important to familiarize yourself with some of the options you have in case you find yourself in such a situation.

What are your options if you have registered a trademark similar to an inactive domain?

If there is an inactive domain name or URL that is similar to your brand name, there are a few things you can do to get it back. However, like with all domain name disputes, it all depends on whether the inactive domain name was registered in bad faith or not.  

‘Bad faith’ usually means that the domain was registered with some ulterior or unfair motive. This could be to redirect traffic to your competitor’s website or with the intent of selling it to you.

How do you know whether a domain name was registered in bad faith or not? For the most part, this boils down to one main thing - when the domain name was registered. Let’s have a look at the two most possible scenarios;

If the domain name was registered before you got your trademark 

If the domain owner registered the domain name before you got your trademark, then you might have a hard time proving the current owner registered the domain name in bad faith. Simple registration of a domain name does not show bad faith. Sometimes it might be just a coincidence, where both of you had the same idea.

In such situations what can you do?

The best option is to try and buy the domain name from the current owner. Using Who.is you can check the information of the current owner of the domain and contact them with your offer. It is important to keep in mind that this works and sometimes it doesn’t. If the owner knows you are trying to get the domain name for your brand they will often hike the price to try and profit from you.

If they purchased the domain name after you got your trademark 

If the domain name was registered after you got your trademark, then it’s easier to show bad faith. There would be a strong inference that the current owner registered the domain name in ‘bad faith’ if they also tried to sell it to you.

So if you have evidence showing that the current owner reached out to you trying to sell the domain to you, then this might help you with your case when filing for a domain dispute.

What can you do in such a situation?

 In a situation where a cyber squatter has your domain name and is trying to profit from you, you can use the dispute resolution procedure offered by ICANN. ICAAN is an international organization in charge of domain name registration. ICANN offers a cheaper and faster domain dispute resolution compared to filing a lawsuit.

Conclusion 

Just because your brand name is similar to an inactive domain you have the rights to that domain name. If you think that the domain name was registered in bad faith, it is important to gather solid evidence and reach out to a specialist to get an idea of your legal position.  

If you have any questions on this topic or any other topic reach out to us at miller IP law will be happy to strategize and talk about it. Good luck with your business!




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Miller IP Law is a group of attorney's, based out of Mountain Green, Utah, who are excited to help you build your business and further innovate market places and economies. Please consider looking at our services, billed at flat rate, and be sure to grab a free strategy session to meet with us!

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