Hi Guys, I have a question. I ve owned a domain name that is a 6 letter word and is close to a big brand website out there, say that two letters are different and if you read it you will pronounce it exactly the like the big brand’s site.I’ve held on to this for a couple of years but now I decide to do something with it. I would like to know that could I get into legal issues? I see people using typo domain names all the time…I just wanna be sure before I start something.
I would have a quick consult with a trademark lawyer before you embark on anything. As best I understand it, if your name is deceitfully similar to a registered trademark you could be in hot water for copyright infringement. From your explanation you may be over the edge.
While it essentially boils down to likelihood of confusion, it’s still possible to be
able to use your domain name despite that. Depending on what you intend to
do with it, you can either have a non-commercial or non-competing use.
It’s more difficult if the domain matches what I call uniquely famous marks like
Google, Kodak, basically made-up words hardly found in any dictionary. Check
with a lawyer if need be, as previously mentioned.
As long as you use it for something completely different to what already exists there should be no problem.
Consider the eight or ten different products that go by the name iPad many of which have been around for many years. That didn’t stop Apple creating a near duplicate of the P88 and releasing their clone under the name iPad. Since there is no confusion between the different iPad products there is no conflict between all the different products all using that same name.
So having a slightly different name for a totally different use will be no problem.
It is only where the two sites are in competition that an issue arises.
If it can be mistaken for the other website (on text OR in speech - if it sounds the same that’s still just cause) then you could be in trouble. I remember the whole Mike Rowe Soft issue where some guy called Mike Rowe produced a site with stuff he built on (unrelated to the big MS) however once Microsoft found out about it, they hassled him with trademark litigation until he handed it over. It’s also worth noting for the record that Typo registrations are actually now a criminal offence, people with typo sites may be lucky that they haven’t been pursued but there are definite grounds for a lawsuit. A legal act in the US called “Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act” covers such methods of trying to mislead potential customers. Basically, I would dump the domain and not put it up for renewal.