Buying a Domain Name – Trademark Issues

Purchasing a domain name is more difficult than ever. Due to the number of registrations, many people are turning to “after market” services rather than registering new currently available names. That means more and more people are purchasing domain names that have already been used. In that case there are a few key things to watch out for.

1. Check whether the name contains a trademark of another company. Sometimes companies allow their domain to lapse (or drop) and these then become available for registration. While some good domains become available, it’s also true that purchasing such a name can get you into a lot of trouble. Do a trademark search before you purchase.

2. Check whether the website is indexed in Google. If it’s been used previously for something illegal it may not appear in Google and therefore be a wasted purchase.

3. Check whether the domain has a bad history by looking at the “wayback machine” at and cached version of the domain name.

4. Do a search in Google using the “link:[domain]” function to find what sites link to your new domain – it may give you some ideas about what it has been used for previously.

5. Consider whether you will use the domain for a business where the brand is important. If you will, pick a non-descriptive domain name. Descriptive names are much harder to make into a unique brand and therefore much harder to protect as a trademark.

That’s it. Work through those items and you’ll have identified most of the key mistakes in selecting an after-market domain.