Trademark Protection vs. Trademark Overreaching

Domain Name Brokerage

Domain name brokerage is a large, vibrant global industry that has been in operation since the internet’s inception. Today, there are hundreds of high level corporate and boutique domain name brokerages that participate in a very active domain name aftermarket. The vast majority of professionals in the domain industry deal exclusively in non-trademarked, generic domain names and broad multipurpose acronyms or initialisms that any business or person is allowed to register for their own use.

Menius Enterprises welcome all clients: brand owners, trademark holders, start-up companies, private investors, and established corporations aiming to expand their marketing efforts via high quality business domains. We deal only in premium generic keywords and short, broad use letter strings applicable to a wide variety of miscellaneous products, services, interests, and pastimes.

Domain Names and Trademarks

Unfortunately, there are individuals that deliberately infringe on established company trademarks. The term used for this activity is cybersquatting. Cybersquatting is a violation of carefully defined trademark protections and has been the subject of much discussion as well as a frequent source of confusion among many trademark owners themselves.

Over the course of the last 20 years, a substantial body of clear legal precedent has formed in which the rights of trademark owners have been clarified & distinguished from the rights of the larger global community to register & use generic domain names without fear of unjustified litigation by trademark owners who overreach the intended boundaries of trademark protection. Existing on the opposite side of cybersquatting is an equally damaging & inappropriate action committed by trademark overreachers known as Reverse Domain Name Hijacking (RDNH).

RDNH occurs when a company (or a hired third party) misuse available legal or administrative processes in an attempt to wrangle, steal or inappropriately take a domain name that is legitimately registered to another individual or entity. In the early years of the internet, cybersquatting and reverse domain name hijacking were all too frequent occurrences that compromised both trademark owners as well as legitimate domain name registrants. Over time, these activities have fortunately been somewhat curtailed.

Generic keyword domains, geographical locations, and random strings (often employed as acronyms or initialisms) are not subject to exclusive trademark protections and largely exist outside the provisions of the ACPA (Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act) as well as the UDRP (Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy). The ACPA and UDRP were never intended to deny legal registrants the right to own a domain name. Despite this, there are companies (often uninformed, or deliberately misinformed by certain contracted trademark firms) that will attempt to secure valuable domain names to which they are not entitled by using threats or illicit means. These cases are frequently based on a company trying to claim global, comprehensive rights for a mark to which they may have very limited assigned rights within a narrow, singular business classification or geographical jurisdiction. These hijacking efforts are typically futile, but are characteristic of the abusive tactics some companies resort to in vying for assets that will offer them a competitive advantage.

In the 15 years of our company’s history, Menius Enterprises have never lost a single case or had to settle a single case. The reason for this is that we understand the boundaries that define appropriate domain name registration and use, and the inherent limitations of trademark rights. Our company actively supports the larger business community, the advancement of internet ecommerce, and we stand against cybersquatting. We also firmly stand against reverse domain name hijacking and the overreaching of aggressive trademark holders who exploit administrative processes to extort assets from legitimate domain name registrants. If you have been served with a baseless cease & desist letter, lawsuit or UDRP, contact us for a list of highly competent legal representation and case law resources.

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