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Owning an unexpectedly desirable domain



10:15 pm on Dec 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Long story short, I bought a domain <that used the word "firefox"> in iirc 1997. Mozilla's Firefox browser wasn't even conceived of then, as far as I know. The reason for the name was simple enough -- I, and some friends, wrote some stories about a character named Aaric Firefox and his friends and posted them on the website.

Since then, it evolved into a sort've catch-all Web site for me -- I've used it for a lot of personal stuff, run some forums for friends under it, etc. It has some pretty impressive stats.

Anyway -- Mozilla now has the Firefox browser. I'm getting a fair number of e-mails from people interested in buying it, plus even a few phone calls. I've had offers in the low five figures. It's NOT yet for sale, though I'm sorely tempted. (On the other hand, there's some sentimental attachment to the name.)

But it's been pointed out to me that I may not legally be ABLE to sell this domain as Mozilla owns the trademark on the Firefox browser. Is this possibly true? I've got a copyright on the Firefox character, which I'd think would give me a legitimate counterclaim.

(Mozilla's never approached me, unless it's been through a third party. I tried approaching them once, when I was really short of cash, with somewhat comical results. I've sometimes wondered how long it would take them to notice if I put a link to download Microsoft IE on the main page of my site. But I've decided to leave sleeping dogs lying, for now.)

Anyway -- what think ya'll? And could Mozilla legally "take" the domain from me since they've trademarked their browser?


[edited by: tedster at 2:46 am (utc) on Dec. 21, 2005]
[edit reason] remove specific domain name [/edit]


10:27 pm on Dec 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Just because they trademarked their product with the name of your domain name doesn't mean they can just legally walk in and take away your domain name. If I owned the domain name I would not in any way associate the domain name with their product even in jest and would never approach them with a "buy the domain" offer.


11:48 pm on Dec 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

No sure about other legal issues but in the recent Ipod uk domain the ruling that gave apple the domain was because the guy who owned the domain decided to put 1 page website with apple competitor links on the site , the guy also hadn't used the site for anything significant and on top of type tried to extort/sell i think around 50,000 dollars from apple in return for the name .

So like you say use the domain name for something other than firefox antigonizing or trying to extort money from them for the domain.


12:47 am on Dec 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The USPTO has 4 live TMs for "firefox" registered to 3 different parties. Any one of them could legally try to get the domain from you if you tried selling it to them first.


12:51 am on Dec 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member vincevincevince is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I don't know how it would affect your status, but I would consider having a box on the front page saying "Looking for Firefox the Browser?" with a Google Firefox Download button.

That way you will get a little bit of income, plus show good will to firefox, and, you get to keep your own domain for what you are using it for.


1:19 am on Dec 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"...It's NOT yet for sale, though I'm sorely tempted..."

"...I tried approaching them once, when I was really short of cash..."

Are you contradicting yourself?


4:27 am on Dec 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Transfer it to whom ever is offering 5 figures, then in becomes his issue.
Five figures invested in a stable area can do well over twenty years.


11:24 pm on Dec 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"...It's NOT yet for sale, though I'm sorely tempted..."
"...I tried approaching them once, when I was really short of cash..."

Are you contradicting yourself?

Leva probably did that when his/her financial situation wasn't good. But it sounds like it's improved since then. :)


11:48 pm on Dec 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Call me paranoid, but I wouldn't even put a google firefox download link (whatever that is) if that method provides you with any income. You don't want to be seen to be having ANY income thru any association with the firefox browser.

I certainly wouldn't put anything derogatory about the firefox browser either, like recommending/linking to a competing browser.

I would try to forget, and hope they have too, that you ever tried to sell it to them.

I would continue to use your domain as you have been doing without any reference to the firefox browser.

I wouldn't try to actively sell the domain.

I think with the above, you have a pretty good case against anyone trying to capture you domain.

I have no idea how much a domain like that is worth, but the old adage is always true, it's only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it.

So, the offer you've had looks tempting. And as minnapple said, you transfer all of these worries to the new owner.

Finally. Domain names go out of favor/fashion. The firefox browser won't be around forever. It'll grow into something else with another name or worse, die.


9:20 pm on Dec 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

re: selling it -- I had been getting offers in the $1-2K range then when the Firefox browser first was being mentioned. I was desperately short of money and I called Mozilla to give them first crack at it before selling it to someone for the same price who'd do who-knows-what with it. I didn't think it was right to let the domain get into the hands of, say, a porn operator ...

When I called 'em, I spoke to a VERY confused CSR who was convinced they already OWNED that domain and thought I was a nutcase. She couldn't tell me who to call or contact and transferred me to her supervisor's voice mail and they never called me back.

(I work in customer service and confess I'd be equally confused if someone contacted us to sell us our name.)

And yeah, my financial situation has improved, so it's not currently for sale unless someone offers me a fat chunk of change. They lost their chance to get it for cheap. :) (And with the number of hits it's getting I AM going to be putting advertising on it, I think. I've got to pay for the @!#%$ bandwidth use somehow.)

For what it's worth, on the referrel program, there are a number of operators with domain names that have Firefox in them with download buttons. Putting a button up is tempting -- may need to look into the specific laws involved. If I did, I'd be clear that my site was NOT run by Mozilla, thank you very much, simply because I don't want to deal with the, "How do you make it work?" questions.

(I do internet customer service for a living. I deal with enough customer service as it is ... which is one of the main reasons I have NOT put a referrel button up, because I know then I'll get blamed when the download doesn't work!)