joined:Nov 28, 2011
Here's the deal:
I own a domain name (.com), and have owned it for > 10 years. I haven't done anything with the domain.
Recently, a startup (founded in 2010; about $90M raised in two rounds of financing, the latest (~$30M) a couple of months ago) trademarked that name and is up and running. It's a retailer, and obviously they'd like the name. I haven't engaged them yet in discussions, although they have tried (repeatedly) to contact me. Right now, they are using a variation on the name as their domain. But the name of their site and business is the domain name I hold.
1) Can they force me to give up the domain in the US? I owned the domain name long (about a decade) before they trademarked their name. I don't plan on using it for anything related to their business model. (My understanding from reading here and elsewhere is no, they can't take it as long as I don't try to subsequently change my domain to try and infringe/mislead).
2) Is there an independent appraiser who can provide me with a somewhat reliable valuation for the name? They are very keen to get the name, obviously. And without any feedback on my part, they've make 5 figure offers for the name. Since this is a specific case, with a particular business interested in the name, the more generic appraisal services don't make much sense.
3) Is there a professional middleman I can/should engage for negotiation? That is, hand off the negotiations to someone with lots of experience in such things? Someone who'd know the lay of the land, what the name is really worth, and who can play hardball?
Again, it's the name of a new business with about $90M in total funding, Web based, who are consumer oriented and up and running (and headquartered in the US).