Anyone who owns or has registered more than a handful of domain names has probably owned one or more names that infringe on the trademark of another company, whether its intentional or unintentional. Figuring out what domain names are dangerous to a domain portfolio is a big part of doing business as a domain investor.
Sometimes blatant trademarks pose no threat because the trademark holder doesn’t seem to care, and other times seemingly generic domain names become issues when overreaching companies attempt to take domain names using the legal system – or threats of the legal system. You need to be aware of the risks involved with domain investing before jumping in head first.
On average, I receive a few emails a month that go something like this: “I own the domain name xyz.com, and I am not sure if it’s a trademark. What do you think?”
Although I would love to give my educated opinion when I get those emails, I almost always recommend that the person speak with a lawyer, since I have no legal experience. When I first started buying domain names around 2003, I registered some names that may have infringed on the trademarks of other companies. In fact, I received a couple of cease and desist letters. At different times, I reached out to Brett Lewis and John Berryhill who both gave me very good advice.
If you have real concerns about possible trademark names in your portfolio, it’s best to ask a domain lawyer rather than another domain investor. A domain investor may have some experience with trademark issues, but there’s no substitute for a legal professional. Just like you wouldn’t ask your dentist about a toenail problem, you shouldn’t expect a domain investor to answer your legal questions.