Before You Register a Domain Name…

Registering a new domain name is simple. All you need to do is visit Godaddy,,, or another domain registrar of your choice, enter your domain name and extension, give your credit card number and personal information, and you are the owner of a brand new domain name for less than the cost of lunch. It’s that easy, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

As I can see by some of the comments on my blog and mostly elsewhere about the judgment, there are a lot of people who don’t understand the legalities about owning and using domain names in a legal manner. An innocent $10 domain registration can almost immediately become a potential $100,000 liability simply by using it in a way that infringes upon another company’s trademark.

Even though it’s simple to buy a domain name and put it to use immediately, domain registrants need to know the laws with regards to properly (legally) using a domain name. The Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act is a good place to start, and I would also say a dose of common sense would be helpful too 😉

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. What I would be interested in knowing and my lawyer friend clamis next to non. How many of these $100k judgements have been handed out apart from the big cases that involved verizon microsoft etc.

    How many average joe’s saw this penalty handed down? My guess is my lawyer is right, non apart from a handful which were much larger in scope.

  2. @ Josh

    Probably very few… but I’ve heard of a lot of $100k threat emails, and some end in smaller settlements and/or handing over the domain names. All depends on the company.

    What would you do if you got a certified letter on a stupid but obvious tm name and the company threatened a $100k lawsuit and then offered to settle for the name + $3k in fees? You’d probably settle because when all is said and done, you’ll end up paying $3k+ in lawyer fees to deal with the hassle. Sometimes makes business sense and it’s a lesson learned.

  3. Threats, sure very common. Never heard of a settlement for X yet personally. Usually most wish to avoid the legalities and simply take the name. Any big cases we read about are much larger in scope. I suspect the only reason it went this far in said NY case is the owner refused to hand it over and since it was going to court why not seek the $100k, makes sense.

  4. How about, before registering a domain name, research the Registrars where your asset is going to be entrusted? It’s not simple. Today, I read the first 3 pages of Google Adsense terms, which is ten paages, so it will take a couple days. How about reading the terms each Registrar make you click you agree to before registering? Certain company terms are monolithic, and they all force you to indemnify the Registrar no matter what, but some are less ridiculous than others. Some terms, I mean.

    High-school level ability to read and understand is good in the pursuit of a domain registration.

  5. The crazy thing is most of the so called tm typos are done by the domainers who have done this for years. Its not just newbies

    I’m not saying its right and everyone should understand the risks

    To bad these so called domain hitters , vc money, Harvard educated people they all got slammed hard and how these domain bloggers thought they were the most smart of people with generic .com domains.

    Its a joke. So for someone on forum to post a tm they blasted or new to business. But yet its ok for domain leaders to do this and friends of friends.

    2 cents

  6. @Elliot,

    Is there any demand for .net hotel names? Or does the generic name label only apply to the .com? What’s the chance that you’ll receive traffic from the .com? make a sale? It seems that anything less than .com doesn’t matter – regarding hotels.

  7. What happens if you registered a few names when you were still learning about the industry? Should you just let them expire or contact the company to give it to them.

    Before I knew about these laws, I registered a specific film studios name ( ) Another on a popular company ( )

    However, your blog and other articles helped me to learn. I would never buy those trademark names now or in the future. I do own a .net domain of a powerful .com brand that receive 400-500k unique visitors a month. The name is the exact match.

    What could I do with a name such as that, especially when the .net from another one of their brands went for a nice amount a few years ago. It seems they registered all other extensions last month, but I registered a few of the major names 4 months ago.

    When I look at my collection, there are very few names that may present problems such as the ones in the parenthesis above. I avoid even 1932WashingtonQuarter because I assume that Washington is protected.

    Another already owns that domain name. A few months ago, I registered a more generic name that is even better than the one above.

    After reading the cyber act, I can see how the owner put himself in hot water. Was the owner forwarding traffic to another travel company that featured that casino’s brand? The law is interesting.

    Maybe you can write a review about the law to determine which names are borderline and which ones that may introduce problems. The New York City looks cool. Too bad the guy didn’t use it in New York. He would have made a fortune without having any legal issues.

    I would like t learn about which names are protected. Some names actually refer an actual service or product, but they’re not copyrighted. I have one name where the owner hasn’t patented the product, which will be popular for sure. The .com is already owned by a photographer, whereas I have the .net version.

    Would I be able to use this name to promote the product? Many people bear that name as their last name. For example, can I use the name to put a site or to contact the owner about working as an affiliate? Thanks.

  8. Jason, making use of the domain will probably get you into trouble. Just having it is a problem – what to do with it? I’d recommend that you contact them and negotiate a sale. Bearing in mind that they probably would succeed if they sought to enforce their TM rights against your .net registration. I’d be happy to try to help you, send me an email.

  9. What happens if someone buys a domain with this characteristics but he is not American and/or in fact the same domain implies another country other than the US?


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