Can I Really Be Forced to Sell My Domain Name?

Can I Really Be Forced to Sell My Domain Name?

Domain Names, E-Commerce, Trademark, Trademark Infringement
Is it possible for the owner of a domain name used for a business to be forced to sell their domain name? Earlier this month, I received a frantic e-mail from a business owner (to protect the innocent, let’s call her "Debbie"), who had received a threatening e-mail from another business owner (whom we’ll call "Penny"). Debbie’s e-mail went something like this (edited by me for brevity and client confidentiality reasons): I just learned another party has filed to trademark the name of a website I have owned now for several years. She says I have to sell her the domain name. What are my rights? Since this question (in some form or another) is often posed to me, I figured it might be the perfect time to relate some…
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What Is The UDRP? (and Why It Matters to Your Business)

What Is The UDRP? (and Why It Matters to Your Business)

Domain Names, Trademark, Trademark Infringement, UDRP
In the past month, I've had a number of clients who are either facing, or are in a good position to use, the Uniform Domain-name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) for their websites and domain names. Given this rash of requests to our e-commerce law firm, this might be a good idea to explain just what is the UDRP and the advantages it offers online businesses and trademark owners facing disputes over domain names utilizing or confusingly similar to their valuable brands. What is the UDRP? The explosion of the World Wide Web in the very late 20th Century led to a number of enterprising individuals attempting to register trademarks they did not own or had no legal authority to use as Internet domain names. The purpose behind this "land grab"…
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How Do I Trademark My Book Title?

How Do I Trademark My Book Title?

Entertainment, Trademark, Trademark Infringement
Stacked Books by Thought Catalog from Pexels Every now and then, I'm asked by aspiring authors, songwriters, film makers, and other creative types, “How do I trademark the title of my book [or song, movie, etc.]?” In this post, we take a look and answer the question of whether titles to books can even receive trademark protection and how you can possibly protect the economic value of that awesome book, song, or painting title of yours. Ben's Note: For purposes of this post, I will keep things simple by referring to titles of books, but, for the most part, you can extrapolate these ideas to whatever work you’ve created, e.g., new song, photograph, YouTube video, etc. Can I Trademark My Book Title? First off, let's eliminate the suspense. In general,…
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Repeat After Me—Domains are NOT Trademarks (but Trademarks Can Be Domains)

Repeat After Me—Domains are NOT Trademarks (but Trademarks Can Be Domains)

E-Commerce, Entity Formation, Lanham Act, Trademark, Trademark Infringement
Lately, I've had more than one new business owner client tell me they registered a website domain with their company name and, because they were able to do this, then it must not be a registered trademark and available, right? [I direct your attention to the title of this blog post] No, you cannot just add a word onto someone else's trademark and register that domain A recent situation with a new startup client ran something like this: the founder had selected their company name but had not ever bothered to perform an actual trademark search or "clear" the usage of the name. She subsequently hired my firm to assist with getting their startup formally set up and basic initial documentation and disclosures prepared. At one point, the founder requested…
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Cara Delevigne Followed Me: Protecting Value in Celebrity Names

Cara Delevigne Followed Me: Protecting Value in Celebrity Names

Trademark Dilution, Trademark Infringement, Unfair Competition
Will the real Cara Delevingne please stand up? The other morning, I woke up to a notification that (British model, singer, and actress) Cara Delevingne had followed me on Instagram. After congratulating myself on how hip I was to recognize the name of a (currently) famous person, and contemplating Cara and I's eventual life together, I then realized from the actual Instagram handle that it was not THE Cara Delevingne now following my amazing Instagram life but someone (for whatever bizarre reason) merely posing as her. My disappointment got me thinking about the legal challenges faced by famous persons and celebrities in protecting their names from use by others in this social media age. If you are a celebrity (or quasi-celebrity) these days, what can you do to prevent others…
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