|Someone used my store name|
A little advice please.
First of all we are new here, so Hello. Ok now here is our situation. We opened a gift shop in our town in 1995. I made up the name and designed the own logo for our store. We closed the store which disappointed our customers. Last fall we decided to put it on-line. Knowing nothing about domains, the internet, etc., when we went to register the name of the store I found out that a woman that lives about 200 miles away...hmm...had registered our store name. She doesn't have a site there but she has the name. A friend on a message board was offering domains inexpensively so the only thing that I knew to do at the time was register .net and .org. Being an e-commerce site, I wanted .com. I can register a slightly different .com but she has the actual name of our store. I am concerned that if I asked for my name even through arbitration, I would have to pay her a lot of money, which I don't have. Would it be better just to buy the very similar domains and drop my net and org that is the exact name? Thank you for any help.
Probably easier to get new domains and start over...even with a good case, legal litigation can be time consuming. Time which could be well spent developing/designing and marketing a new domain. However, depending on how/when the domain was registered and whether the company name was registered prior, etc you may have a case.
This is only my opinion, so I'm curious what others might say....
Welcome to WmW E_Franklin.
Any time you expose yourself to legal proceedings you risk losing money and maybe losing the case as well. One thing is for sure one way or the other...it's a pain and it'll cost you money.
IMHO I would concentrate my efforts on building up my business rather than trying to recoup something that may not really have that much value to me in the scope of internet marketing after all.
If you read through the posts here at WmW you will discover quite a few very helpful tips such as the GoTo tool, which will help you research what words someone is typing into the search engines to find the products you're trying to sell. Once you know this then you might find that there are some keyword rich domains available to actually help increase the traffic flow to your site.
Use the "site search" feature at the top of the page to search for "goto tool" and read some of the posts about that subject. Then I would suggest reading about "themes" and learn about file names and directory structure. The thread on "canonicals" is especially enlightening.
Once you have a firm grasp on some of the fundamental elements involved in internet marketing you might find that there really are a host of good domain names left out there if you zero in on a specific target market.
IMHO I would stay away from .org. I don't see where there is any difference between the ranking potential of a .com and a .net.
Thank you for the quick replies Junior Harris and toolman.
When I opened my store downtown I was required to get a UBI (tax ID #). In order to do that you register the name of your business. No one in my State is allowed to use my name. I re-applied for my tax ID under my store name and received it.
The reason I want to keep my name is my store here was popular and had a good reputation. So when I advertise my store locally people will recognize the name. I also have considered re-opening my store downtown. Therefore I don't want to change the name, so I thought maybe the way to go is drop one word and get .com. I considered the .net and org so no one else would take them. The original expires in August but I don't want to wait and she if she keeps it. Do you forsee any problems with dropping a word and going with that. My online store isn't known yet so if I change names it must be soon so people can find it once it's in the search engines. Thank you again for the input.
E_Franklin, can I get something clarified? The woman now owns the domain name, but she has no web site yet? And she has never had any business using that name? But you did have a business using that name, and currently have a site using the name with .net?
Sometimes there is an enforceable trademark privilege established by reason of having a history of use, even though one has never been officially applied for. I'm mentioning this because I'm reminded of the issue having been brought up here before. There has been discussion on the issue.
Even if she has the .com domain name, if the answers to the above questions are affirmative, if you appeared on the scene first using the name with .net she would, if she's never used the name, be in a shaky positition if she decided to later on, using the com.
Does she have any other claim to the name except owning use of the .com domain name (with no site)?
Edited by: Marcia
According to the NSI whois, the name with the .com is available right now, but without the word "the" in it.
>maybe the way to go is drop one word and get .com
Since URLs, including directories and filenames, should be limited in length, absence of "the" in the domain name is not a bad thing at all.
"Does she have any other claim to the name except owning use of the .com domain name (with no site)?"
No because I made up the name myself and she didn't register the name until August of 2000. We had visiters from all over the Northwest and Canada. In WA state, you have to register a business and company name to get a UBI for tax purposes, so she couldn't have used my name.
In checking the WHOIS, I found that she is affiliated with an internet service provider and I think that she bought buisness URL's from WA in the hopes that she would be able to sell them at a later date.
Thank you for your suggestions.
Sorry I forgot to ask, where is the best place to buy and park a domain name until I can get it moved to my server?
Why not hyphen the name? ie: the-widget.com Does anybody have any thoughts on if se's like hyphenated <sp?> domain names?
I have found for myself when I go to a site that has a hyphen I tend to forget. I want people to easily remember the url.
This is what I would do:
1. Register the .com domain name without the "the" in it RIGHT NOW!...lol.
2.Then I would use the GoTo tool to find the most highly searched words/phrases for your industry. Use what you find there to brainstorm more domains if you need them and see if they are available.
3. Deal with this woman slowly and at your own pace if at all...your web Site is more important than the dispute, especially if another domain will work just fine.
4. Drop the .org you have if you don't want to renew it and keep the .net for the heck of it to maybe use later.
5. You can park and register these domains very cheaply
Neither of these companies pay me to advertise, I do it out of the kindness of my heart :)
>>1. Register the .com domain name without the "the" in it RIGHT NOW!...lol.
Full agreement on this point!!
I'm not so sure I'd even bother letting the woman know. It's my guess she's probably grabbed up so many she won't notice. If she ever decided to dispute, she would have to demonstrate some evidence of her intention to make legitimate use of the domain name, which she cannot do. It could appear that she grabbed up the name for the purpose of selling it back. I would, however, keep watch on the name before and after its expiration.
E_Franklin, it looks like your plan is to continue with local branding, so it's very easy to see your logic.
I use 000domains.com for domain names, and parking is free at granitecanyon.com (done automatically when names are taken at some registrars, including the one I use.) Wherever you decide, it isn't necessary to pay for parking.
What is being indicated is looking for keyword-rich promotional domain names. Viable suggestion, and you might also want to use the search feature here (top left) to do a search on dyanamic pages, which is not 100% unrelated to the issues.
pmac, we have periodic discussions about hyphenated domain names. There was one just recently. rcjordan and evinrude said to *run* from them - I believe the difficulty arises with offlne referrals and the difficulty of explaining the hyphen And it would possibly have a negative impact when "branding" is to be established, which I believe to be the goal in this case.
For primarily search engine purposes I believe hyphens are the preference.
Thanks so much for the advise. I just went to Go Daddy and registered the .com and .net without the "the" lol. I definitely will keep an eye on my my original name. I don't see why she would dispute but I have all my records from my store so I am not too concerned about it. I really appreciate your help. I am going back over your posts and figure out the search etc.
Thank you all so much for the help, I really appreciate it!
Another option: email this person and say you'll buy the domain for $500......That would be an easy way for this person to earn a quick buck and you'd get ahold of the domain...Keep in mind you'll also have to pay a fee (I think it is around 200) for Network Solutions to expedite the transfer of the site. This process requires a form from network solutions and notarization.
Bradley, the registration can also be transferred to another registrar that isn't quite so exhorbitant as NSI for transfer.
Now, I am thinking that if the business will be lucrative, for certain, the funds might be well spent registering a trademark. However, with internet ecommerce sites so much depends on the nature of the products, generating traffic and how much conversion to sales there will be, that it's a hard call to estimate how much investment is wise prior to seeing how much revenue will be generated.
Why not just contact the domain holder and ask the price? You could use a free web based email account, without letting her know of your true interest, to get an accurate price. Lots of domain speculators/squatters have lost a good bit by buying domains no-one ever had any interest in. They may let it go for less than you would imagine.
The other option I would choose, is develop for now without "the" and see if it is released after expiration...
I got confirmation this morning about my new domains. I think I will jut go with the new ones without the "the" it will be easy to remember and still the same name. I will leave the other one alone and just wait.
Thanks again for all the input and advise.
Way to go E_Franklin! Welcome aboard.
Thanks Hunter! I really appreciate it. :)
>>Sometimes there is an enforceable trademark privilege established by reason of having a history of use, even though one has never been officially applied for.
You can only file for federal trademark protection for a name that is used in interstate commerce. That means that if you were a brick & mortar only selling locally, you don't have much legal recourse.
However, once you start selling products online, you now qualify for trademark protection. I would move forward with your plans for a new domain, and then quitely file for protection for the original name. That way, down the road you'll have some ammo to use to get it back.
Go register the trademark asap. You can do it online and it will run you around $375-$550 depending on the registration options. Once registered and approved, you have all the leverage you need to arbitrate a domain resolution in your favor without legal intervention. Go read the domain name dispute resolution policy at NetworkSolutions (also available at most domain registrars).
US Patent and Tradmark Office, Basic Facts About Registering A Trademark:
I am experiencing the exact same problem. I will avoid mentioning any names due to the fact that it's probably a bad idea legally. I'll get to that... I went to register the domain a couple of years ago for my established business and guess what....
I am very angry because my name was very unique and I spent over a year coming up with it. On a limited income, I begin a very modest advertisement campaign in a international magazine. Sending out catalogs and creating a whole concept around my cool name, now about ten years old. Now my name has been stolen on a grand scale. Several books, a .com, and some crummy little sub domain. Worse yet, the crummy little sub-domain is selling a similar product.
To make matters worse, I came up with a really interesting name/concept for my product which I posted on my, ..ugh.., dot-net site and someone stole that name for their business and bought themselves a dot com using it.
I'm talking about unique creative terminology. No mistake, stolen ideas.
Before the Internet, I had a year's worth of art stolen that I did in the wee hours of the morning while my small children slept. My business is a graphic business. Yes I have the original stuff, but the finished work is a zillion hours on top of that. The art was stolen at print, where no one knew of it's existance even though my checks had been cashed.
Anyway, my point. It seems that copyright protection is only for the wealthy. As for someone raising two children alone, I can't buy fourteen different domains, keep them going and pay
$500 here and there for all my ideas.
Even though my stolen art paragraph doesn't apply here, I include it because it is an example of how anyone can just come along and pick and pluck creative properties from small and unwealthy individuals without really being concerned. The situation is primed to exploit the beginners and the fledgling business creator. Old story, I know, but now with the Internet, a lot of people are going to be robbed of their best ideas and traffic by more established, well off individuals faster than you can say "whaaaaaaa!"
Is there any protection?? Are there any groups that are addressing this matter directly. Is there anyone out there calling this type of activity a true crime.
I feel that I can't afford to have creative properties. Simply like I can't afford to have three cars. It is becoming something for the rich. Will I get sued for using names I have created down the road by ruthless theves and or unknowing business heirs?
Not to poo poo the good advise here. I plan on looking into it myself. I just plan to be a very sqeeky wheel on this particular subject every chance I get.
First I want to thank everyone for the advise and taking the time to reply.
I understand your frustration and anger. Many of us don't have alot of money to spend, myself included. I have worked 6 months trying to scrape enough together to get going on the e-commerce. Imagine how surprised I was to find my name taken! I created the name, did the artwork for my logo and made my own signs.
I have met a lot of graphic artist in the meantime who have had their stuff stolen, The "rich" may have the money to fight but many of them struggled to get where they wanted to be just like us.
All I am saying is don't get bitter about what others have. Keep plugging along and your work will pay off in the end. I don't believe the thieves will prosper forever but if your work is good and you keep at it no matter what obstacles, you will succeed. One thing a thief cannot take is your creativity, which limits them. Do what you are able, forget the rest and eventually you will succeed.