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Have you consulted with an IP lawyer or a TM lawyer? If not, why not?
Let's turn this thread around, if you don't mind, for the alternative is that the thread will be closed due to the Domain Forum Charter provisions regarding trademark. Basically the Charter provides that we don't act as unqualified and ill-informed lawyers in matters that may affect individuals or companies directly.
Play with me and we'll see where it goes. We may be able to offer some initial suggestions, even though we will not be able to answer your question directly or in any meaningful or reliable or trustworthy way.
First questions I have:
1. Why haven't you consulted with an intellectual property (IP)lawyer?
2. What online legal resources, dedicated to IP law have you consulted? If the answer is "none" then please do a bit of searching and report back what you have found about available resources. You might want to check the government trademark sites to begin. You might look for "law journal" sites operated by various law schools. You might want to see if there's any organizations dedicated to "intellectual property law" or "trademark law". (You can't be BOTH cheap/poor AND lazy AND be successful in business, right? So, if you can't hire a lawyer seek out the most authoritative free resouces.)
3. What country do you live in? What country is the headquarters of the company whose product you are targeting? Where does that country "do business"? I ask the latter question because you might be subject to an infringement claim in every country where the parent company has registered their trademark?
4. Have you checked to see where the company has registered its trademark?
5. Has this company filed any WIPO or National Arbitration Forum complaints?
6. Has the company filed any trademark infringement lawsuits? (Search for "company name" + litigation, lawsuit, trademark infringement, etc.)
Now, hopefully you will play along.
Or, maybe, you'll throw up your hands as you begin to appreciate just how challenging the topic is.
I hope you choose to play along.
DON'T NAME THE COMPANY, at least not at this time, especially if you intend to move ahead with this project. (Read the Charter for an explanation why I say this.)
[edited by: Webwork at 3:06 pm (utc) on Sep. 22, 2008]
I think a lot of people are put off by consulting a lawyer up front assuming that they haven't a lot of money to invest in the name and are just looking to make a buck or two and simply are not prepared to do due diligence.
OK, i was worn out just reading no. 2 :)
Even if you are told you are most likely in the clear, you may need deep pockets to defend a lawsuit and even just a legal letter can send an owner's blood pressure through the roof as has been seen here many time.
"You can't be BOTH cheap/poor AND lazy AND be successful in business, right? "
While not saying that the original poster is any of this, I think a lot of people are out to make a fairly passive income with minimal investment and minimal effort and to succeed in a short amount of time.
I wonder how many even have a business plan, never mind doing legal due diligence.
P.S. Think of the positives. IF you are going to do some actual research you could always write about it on your blog, paste up some Adsense, . . . :P
With or without legal hazards, why settle for marketing limitations created by someone else's name?
As always, I like how you think.
The DIY route is doable though not watertight and if i was that attached to the domain, I would invest in a lawyer right from the start. Nothing beats putting the effort in up front rather than developing and having to turn it over.
I can't hire a lawyer for my project because I'll be happy if it pays for the hosting :)
After a back and forth years ago, I did get an email from an employee of the company I am thinking of building up the site, saying that if it's for noncommercial use, I have permission. Unfortunately, who remembers which email account it was and I'm not sure if I can dig it up. I did put disclaimers on the site saying it's NOT COMMERICAL :) Put it in the footer actually, heh heh...
Problem is, it's an open source product...and now it's been sold to a company that is less aggressive about the open source community, so I'm worried they may view it differently :)