5 tips to avoid Trademark and Nominet disputes

Don’t get stung with a costly Nominet or Trademark dispute.  Following these simple steps below should keep you safe from any legal letters or expensive Nominet proceedings.

Check for trade marks before you buy a domain

It’s really easy to check for trademarks before you register a domain.  HMRC have a handy Search for a trade mark tool on their website where you can easily do a quick search for any active trademarks before you buy a domain.

Check other domain TLDs (.com, .net .uk) for businesses

When buy a domain through a registrar like 123reg or Namecheap they will show you all of the other domain extensions for your search phrase (e.g. .com, .net, .org, .de etc).  If there is already an established website or brand using the .com or .co.uk .uk extension you may find yourself in a dispute.  With UK domains this will be a Nominet dispute and with .com domains this will lead to a dispute panel with ICANN.  Disputes can be pricey and a lot of hassle for both parties.  Most companies will just make you an offer for the domain instead.

Steer clear of well known brands or product names

It may be tempting if you see a brand name domain available to register, but it’s not worth the hassle.  If you register a domain that is also a well know brand and trademark you will get in to trouble.  It may be just a friendly email from the company asking for you to give the domain over or a letter from a solicitor.  Most likely you will have to transfer the domain to the trademark owner for free and be left out of pocket for the domain and any transfer fees.  My advice is stay well clear.

Avoid two word domains with a brand or product in

e.g. adidiastrainers.co.uk or herschelbags.co.uk

These type of domains are very tempting for affiliate marketers as they can rank highly for google keyword based searches e.g. “adidas trainers” for adidiastrainers.co.uk or “herschel bags” for herschelbags.co.uk.  Most brands will be aware you have registered a domain featuring their trademark and will drop you an email politely asking you not to use the domain.  If you ignore the warnings then you will probably face legal action.

Don’t bother with misspellings of popular domains

e.g. addidas.co.uk, or adiddas.co.uk

Typo domains or misspellings of popular brand domains can get a lot of search traffic.  They often appear in domain drop lists with indications of high search volumes.  Be wary as these domains are alsocovered by trademarks and I would advise you to avoid them.

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