As you search for the right domain, there are some legal issues you’ll want to pay attention to. Most importantly is the subject of trademarks. For details on potential legal issues, refer to our legal issues guide.
Trademark issues and their connection to domain names have one of the most ambiguous precedents in court today. The rule in the beginning was ‘first come, first serve’. But in certain areas, the rule has become ‘if you have enough money for a team of lawyers, then help yourself’. But still, there are plenty of smaller companies who have beaten corporate giants who try to take away their domains in court under the label of trademark infringement.
Look through the news history archive on this site to find dozens of back and forth judgments on such cases, both from courts and from the UDRP.
The easiest way to avoid trouble is to avoid registering domains of famous trademarks. Try generic names that are often used in the English language. Even words that are easily interpreted for a company name can get you into hot water though. Dell, for example, has taken a number of people to court for registering domain names that could be misspellings of their own domain. For example, owning the name deelFinancialServices.com is considered to be a type-squatted version of DellFinancialServices.com and the courts have yet to set a precedent for such cases.
Current laws allow U.S. courts to fine trademark infringement violators up to $100,000 for each domain. You likely don’t want those kinds of fines, court costs, lawyer fees, and other headaches. Play it safe now and do some research before investing money into a domain name that will draw the attention from big companies.