Stay Far Away From Trademarked Domains - Here's My Horror Story
Updated: Nov 24, 2021
So you’re thinking about buying a domain name that has a company’s trademark in it huh?
You should think twice about doing that. Why? Well, I can simply tell you it’s a bad idea and you should go on with your day. But that would make for one very boring blog post…wouldn’t it?
Instead, what if I shared my story of the time I almost got sued by one of the biggest banks in the world because I owned their trademarked domain name.
Sounds interesting doesn’t it?
You see, you should never ever under any circumstance buy a trademarked domain name. Especially if it’s trademarked by a huge multi-billion dollar corporation (like I did).
You see I wasn’t buying this domain name to try to sell it back to the trademark owners, which I read some people do (which is nuts).
Nope. I had no interest in selling this domain name at all. This domain had another specific purpose to it. I built a website on this domain name with the intent to get it to rank extremely high on the search engines, mainly Google. I knew the keyword that this domain name was targeting generated MASSIVE traffic and if I could get my new website to climb up the SERP (search engine results pages) ranks, I could capitalize on that traffic and monetize it with affiliate offers or plenty other ways.
Here are some key points regarding this domain name:
It was a .COM domain – GOOD
High search volume keyword domain – GOOD
4 word domain – NOT GREAT (only bad if you want to flip the domain, fine if purpose is to develop)
Had a trademarked company name within the domain – EXTREMLY BAD
Keep in mind, when I got this domain name I was really into building websites and ranking them on the search engines. I wasn’t too well versed with the in’s and out’s of “domaining” and the dangers of buying trademarked domain names.
I did have a feeling it was a stupid idea…but you know. I was young, that counts right?
So as I mentioned earlier, I would guess it took about a month before the website was ranking extremely high in the search engine and was actually beating the company itself for their own keywords in Google. You also need to understand, these specific keyword phrases were incredibly competitive.
The type of keywords companies are paying big money for in Google ads.
The only difference was that this company was a multi-billion dollar company and I was a college kid working out of my bedroom. Kind of crazy, isn’t it?
So things were all well and good. The website was earning revenue and overall, I was happy with the results of the website.
But then…it happened.
I got a letter in the mail. It was an extremely scary moment for me because:
I didn’t want to get sued.
I didn’t want my parents to get mad at me for getting sued.
Did I mention I didn’t want to get sued?
The letter I received is known as a Cease and Desist letter. If you’ve been around domaining for some time now, you have probably heard of it.
It’s a letter basically saying that you are infringing on a companies property and if you do not stop doing whatever it is you are doing, they will take legal action against you. So you can imagine why I was pretty nervous about all of the potential negative things that could come out of having that website up.
So the decision was easy. I contacted the company via email, let them know I received their Cease & Desist letter and that I would be shutting down the website.
Story over? Not quite.
You see, since the website was a success and was bringing in revenue daily I simply knew one key thing…the keywords they were ranking for were GREAT! I could not let that opportunity pass by so I had to figure out another way to “get around” the trademark infringement issue.
What I did was simple, effective and worked. I bought nearly the exact same domain name but instead of putting the company name, I replaced it with a letter. So for example let’s say the trademarked domain was:
I decided to instead go with the domain :
It’s a very simple change but it was just enough to where the company did not have the right to claim I was infringing on their property with the domain name…because I no longer wasn’t.
Guess what happened? In a few weeks, my new website ranked #1 through #3 (depending on the day) on the Google search engines! I was still beating the multi-billion dollar company for their own keywords.
And then, believe it or not I received an email from the company again, requesting I take down the new website and they claimed trademark infringement once again. This time though, I was going to fight back. The first website I had, yes I didn’t put up much of a fight because I was clearly in the wrong.
But this new website had no mention of their company trademark in my domain name. Yes, the website itself reviewed their different products but that’s fair game on the internet. All I was doing was reviewing their items on my website…nothing more, nothing less.
So I mustered up the courage to write them back and tell them I was not taking down the website because I was no longer infringing on their trademark. Simple as that.
And then…I never heard from them again. I didn’t get sued. They just left me alone. I called their bluff and it felt great.
Don’t let a company bully you when you are not in the wrong. If you do mess up, admit it, fix your mistake and move on. But if you are doing things the right way and you are still being attacked, then it’s time to stand up for yourself.
If you are in doubt in regards to a trademark, you can always check the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). You can find the link here.
How do you feel about trademarked domain names? Have you ever knowingly purchased them? Have you ever received a cease and desist letter?
If you are thinking about buying trademarked domain names, think twice.
Cease & Desist letters should be taken very seriously.
When you are at fault, admit it. But sometimes a company can also try to bully you as well. You need to know when to stand up for yourself.
You can check for trademarks through the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).