BUYING & SELLING DOMAIN NAMES

The important thing is to know that buying and selling domain names is legal, as long as the domain being sold does not infringe on the trademark rights of a third party. Today, the vast majority of domain investors operate within this legally-acceptable territory. However, in some cases a domain owner is unaware of, or chooses to ignore, the legal constraints. Fortunately, in these cases, a trademark holder has numerous channels for addressing their ownership dispute. These resources are described below.

Domain name sellers should be aware that it is their responsibility to ensure that their domain name is free from possible trademark infringements before listing it for sale. Ignorance of the law is no excuse! Use the information provided here to inform yourself about your rights and the legalities governing domain name ownership to reduce the risk that you will lose your domain. Research and verify potential trademark issues at The US Patent & Trademark Office's Trademark Electronic Search System web site.

Trademark holders should be aware that possessing a trademark for a given term does not automatically mean that you have a legitimate legal claim to a domain name. Possession of a valid trademark is only one of three requirements that you need to meet to win ownership of a domain name via ICANN's Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), the policy governing ownership disputes for the generic TLDs (.com, .net, .org, .biz, and .info). Please take the time to inform yourself about the UDRP and other legalities governing domain names using the resources provided below.

Before you make a complaint, make sure that you have consulted a qualified trademark attorney with experience in domain names. Legal disputes should generally be considered a last option: the cost for a UDRP case is $1,500 plus legal expenses, and there is no guarantee that you will win. If you do sue and lose, your chances of then being able to purchase the domain from the current owner are greatly reduced.