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Affiliate Site using Trademarks

Need advice... please read if you are familiar with the subject

6:51 pm on Jan 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I would like to become an affiliate for a particular well-known company using my own website that I am planning to establish. The site I am planning to establish will specifically provide information about the affiliate company and its services and will include links to the company's site.

Consequently, I would like to include the company name/trademark in my domain name for marketing purposes. Unfortunately, this has often been considered an infringement on the company's intellectual property in the past. However, since I am specifically promoting their site and company related products (and not claiming to hold any relationships with the company that are untrue), I don't see how this could be a problem. Therefore, would it be acceptable to use their trademark in my domain name? Do you think they will care?

For example, let's pretend that I would like to promote company XYZ under their affiliate program and XYZ is trademarked. Would it be alright for me to promote their site by creating another site called www.how-to-purchase-XYZ-products.com or www.unofficial-XYZ-site.com?

Thanks for any of your help.


7:07 pm on Jan 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to Webmasterworld!

I don't mean to sound harsh, but there is absolutely no point asking such a question here, and expecting an iron clad answer either way.

The best advice I can give you is "ask your lawyer", or, better yet, contact the merchant you want to promote. Go *directly* to the source of your problem. Nobody here can speak on behalf of another company and what they might or might not see as being an infringment. As always, better safe than sorry. Don't take the chance without finding out all the facts by contacting the company themselves.

Just my 0.02

8:25 pm on Jan 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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You need permission from the merchant. No but's about it. Chances are, they won't allow you to use their name, since it cost them a pretty penny to brand it, and it wouldn't make sense for them to willy nilly let a nobody (sorry, don't mean to sound harsh) go around using their name. That's just good business sense on their part.
8:26 pm on Jan 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I have about 5 sites with domain names that use other companies trademarked brand names in the domain name. In general, I think its a good way of getting higher click through rates when users are searching for individual brands.

However, I did recently get a cease and desist letter from a lawyer at a company that owned one of the brands, so I had to take the site down. The other trademark holders either don't care, or, more likely, haven't noticed me yet.

So, using trademarks can be a good way of getting traffic, but don't expect it to last. If its just a throwaway site for a quick buck, go ahead and use the trademark. Just don't put your heart into it because there is a good chance the site will have to come down.

9:16 pm on Jan 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Do NOT follow spike2131's advice to make a quick buck. This is the problem with most online "businessmen" - and I use the term quite loosely. It is flatly illegal to do what you are suggesting.

Get their permission. If you get it, great. If you don't, come up with another plan.

But please don't add to the Wild West attitude of the the web that anything goes and anything to make a buck is morally okay.


9:21 pm on Jan 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Even if trademark law didn't exist, since you are planning to be an affiliate of this company, get their permission first. You want to have a long and fruitful relationship with them, right?
10:37 pm on Jan 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Many sites state in their Terms & Conditions, that the affiliate cannot use their trademarks in the URL. So you should look at that document carefully. Even if it is not there, the site could easily add it the next time that they update their Terms.

So it is best to discuss it with the site.

12:41 am on Jan 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Plus I thnk they can come after you for 3X whtever you made from using the domain if they so choose.