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Advice

Watch Out for “Generic” Sounding Trademarks

Every day, I see quite a few domain names in auction with bids that could have trademark issues. Some of these trademarks are super obvious, like Microsoft or Volvo, but others are not as clear. Olympics, for example, is a highly defended trademark, and there are a number of UDRP filings for Olympic-related domain names.

Over the weekend, Peter Askew shared some advice about staying away from generic sounding terms that are actually trademarks. His observations were based on a domain name that is listed on GoDaddy Auctions and will be sold in about one week:

Network Solutions Should Ditch Registrar-Transfers.com

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Network Solutions uses an unbranded domain name for at least a few important confirmation functions. When I need to confirm my email address at Network Solutions or approve a transfer away from Network Solutions, I am directed to different pages on the Registrar-Transfers.com website. In my opinion, Network Solutions should shift the functionality to its own NetworkSolutions.com website because customers are more familiar and comfortable with that domain name and using an unbranded domain name isn’t a good idea.

Prospect Under No Obligation to Reply

Yesterday, I received an email from someone looking to sell a domain name that I don’t believe has value. Put another way, I wouldn’t hand register the domain name with your credit card, let alone pay someone a premium to buy it. I’ve been pretty busy lately, so I did not reply to the email. This morning, I received a sassy message from the same person telling me they expected to receive an answer from me and was upset that I did not reply.

A prospective buyer is under no obligation to respond to an unsolicited domain name sales email. Just like I am not obligated to reply to a spam phone call or a marketing letter in the mail, I do not need to reply to an unsolicited domain name sales email. Even when a prospective buyer requests a price, they are under no obligation to follow up if they do not wish to do so. It seems silly to have to write this, but sometimes something that seems like common sense to me may not be common sense to everyone.

Vivid Should Embrace Its .Money

This morning, TechCrunch published an article about a banking and financial services startup called Vivid, a self-described “unique mobile banking app.” While the startup’s brand name is Vivid, it uses the Vivid.Money domain name for its website. There’s nothing really wrong with using a .Money domain name, but in my opinion, Vivid should add “Money” to its branding, and either be known as Vivid Money or Vivid.Money. I think brands operating on new extensions should embrace the extension, and it is especially important in the case of this startup called Vivid.

Payment Plans: Cover Your Costs and Use an Escrow Service

I read AbdulBasit Makrani’s thoughts about payment plans on NamePros, as well as the commentary added by others. I thought I would share a couple of additional pieces of advice that I think could be helpful based on my own experiences.

I have done somewhere around 10+/- deals using payment plans. For all of them except for one, I used either Escrow.com, DAN.com, or John Berryhill for the escrow / holding service. There are other companies that offer payment plan deal facilitation, but I have not used any other services. Based on my experiences, there are two things I would suggest – use a third party provider to facilitate the deal and do your best to ensure all of the fees are covered with the first payment.

Payment plans can be beneficial for several reasons. The buyer will be able to purchase a domain name that might not be affordable without a payment plan, and if they buyer fails to make payment in full, the seller keeps the payments and gets the domain name back. Aside from not getting paid in full upfront, I don’t see many drawbacks that can’t be worked out in the payment plan agreement.

You Can’t Look at Sales in a Vacuum

Although I do not report my own sales, I appreciate when other investors and companies share their sales. Some of the benefits I get out of seeing other people’s sales include the following insight:

  • Types of domain names that are selling
  • Who is buying domain names
  • Where domain names are selling (venues/landers)
  • Pricing strategy
  • Keywords that are selling and the value of comparable domain names

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