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Archived ⇒ Domain Names and Trademark Infringement


I do hope this is the right place to post this!


My Dragonfly site is used as an online gathering place for residents of the community we live in (more like a subdivision, not a city or town).

Yesterday we were contacted by the builder's attorney asking us (asking, not demanding or threatening legal action) if we would change our domain name (which is the .net version of the community's official .com site) because they think it might be a Trademark Infringement, possibly cybersquatting (which it obviously isn't), or other some-such violation.


Obviously you guys aren't lawyers.... but do you guys think they have a leg to stand on?

We are not charging people for use of our site, we are not asking for donations or profiting in any way from the site, so they could not say that we are a business; however, in the contract for our home sale, we may have signed something stating that we would not use their name, but............. would that hold up in a domain name situation? Since we aren't a business or anything?

Anyway, thoughts, ideas, experience would be great Smile

Server specs (Server OS / Apache / MySQL / PHP / DragonflyCMS):
Apache: 1.3.34 (Unix), MySQL: 4.1.18, PHP: 4.4.2, CPG: 9.1.1


Depends on where are they coming from.

Personally I dont think they have a case. Maybe they decided that they want to use the .net now, that is why they asked you to change it. just because you use the name newtownatstcharles.net does not mean the copyright infringe. Any domain name is UP FOR GRAB! if it is not registered yet.

Just like my hobbie site it-res.net is the same name as it-res.com. Eventhou, it bare the same name, but the contents are totally different. And I dont see them asking me to change it.

So, ask long as you dont try to use their contents and images, you should be good to go.

Also, since they did not registered the .net and you now owned it, it's their lost not to registered it in the first place like this site where all the .com, .net, .org belong to dragonflycms. It's their problem not your.

Lead Theme Designer - WebSiteGuru Designs

Server specs (Server OS / Apache / MySQL / PHP / DragonflyCMS):
Linux 2.6.9 / Apache 2.2.6 / MySQL 5.0.27 / PHP 5 / DF Version 9.2.1


Thanks, WSG! That is what we've been told by a friend who is a web designer (for a living).

The letter we received was requesting us. As fas as we know, they would have to issue a complaint to ICANN to have a panel review our domain and site, and from ICANN's rules, it doesn't look like they could do a whole lot.

Server specs (Server OS / Apache / MySQL / PHP / DragonflyCMS):
Apache: 1.3.34 (Unix), MySQL: 4.1.18, PHP: 4.4.2, CPG: 9.1.1


Like, I said (I also do Web Designs for a living on the side) they dont have a case, not unless they are trying to play the registered trademark name routine(that I dont forsee). But from the looks of things, they are just asking you to change it, not demanding. You have an option thou to sell it to them if they want to use the domain .net too. Since it is under your name. But that's up to you.

Lead Theme Designer - WebSiteGuru Designs

Server specs (Server OS / Apache / MySQL / PHP / DragonflyCMS):
Linux 2.6.9 / Apache 2.2.6 / MySQL 5.0.27 / PHP 5 / DF Version 9.2.1


The owner of a trademarked name does have the right to prevent you using it in a domain name.

Usually, they will politely ask you to stop using it, sometimes even offer to purchase it from you.

If they are so inclined, they can successfully take legal action to prevent you using it.

The prime reason for doing so is that your use of their trademark creates an impression that they have an involvement in your site.

I don't speak as a lawyer, rather as someone who has been through this very issue on a couple of occasions over the years.

Where it gets legally messy is when someone trademarks a name after you have registered the domain name, and they can also win that one if they throw enough dollars against you, and you don't have the resources to fight it Sad

Furthermore, check ICANN's Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) - complainants have an 80% success rate.

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IANAL but i have seen various cases like this before reported on, some involving very big companies (Such as apple computers).

You are not infringing trademark if you do not compete with them. They do not own the word/phrase, they just only have it registered wtih the patent office to protect them in certain contexts. If you are in a different business or not in a business at all, no sane judge would rule against you. So you have nothing to fear. Just put a disclaimer on your site saying that "if you are looking for builders blah then click here, we have nothing to do with them" and they have zero claim (they have little already).

There are MANY sites on the net that do this. Their only claim is that they may suffer a detrimental effect on their business because of the implied association between them and you that customers may assume.

Such a thing is scetchy at best, and putting a small notice at the top of your pages completly mitigates it.

Server specs (Server OS / Apache / MySQL / PHP / DragonflyCMS):
Linux (Kernel: 2.4.21-27.0.2.ELsmp)/1.3.33 (Unix)/4.0.24-standard/4.3.11/9.0.5.0


If you didn't buy it to gain profit from the said company & your use has nothing to do with their business lane your cool.


My best friend is a copyright infringment lawyer for several major auto manafactures thats done a lot of this type of work.

Server specs (Server OS / Apache / MySQL / PHP / DragonflyCMS):
Debian/Apache2/MySQL 4.1.15-Debian/PHP4 4.4.2-1build1/9.1.1


Thanks for the opinions, all Smile

It looks like they don't have a leg to stand on, except that we live in the subdivision, and our Rules and Regulations that we signed in our contract prohibit our use of it. >:(

So, while it would be legal if we did not live here, it is 'illegal' simply because we would be in breach of our contract.

*sigh* So off I go to change the domain name. Bleeping builders and their loopholes!

Server specs (Server OS / Apache / MySQL / PHP / DragonflyCMS):
Apache: 1.3.34 (Unix), MySQL: 4.1.18, PHP: 4.4.2, CPG: 9.1.1


Dana wrote
Thanks for the opinions, all Smile

It looks like they don't have a leg to stand on, except that we live in the subdivision, and our Rules and Regulations that we signed in our contract prohibit our use of it. >:(

So, while it would be legal if we did not live here, it is 'illegal' simply because we would be in breach of our contract.

*sigh* So off I go to change the domain name. Bleeping builders and their loopholes!


This is old, and you may have changed your domain already, but if you haven't, would it still be against the regulations if it was hosted somewhere else or if "I" (or someone else) owned it in a different state and you were the admin? Heck to put it to them, I would let you host it on my servers.

Server specs (Server OS / Apache / MySQL / PHP / DragonflyCMS):
2K3/V2/5.0.51/4.3.11/9.2.1

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