by Mike Banks Valentine
Domain names are becoming "hot" property - as in *theft* for resale. More and more
companies are finding they cannot get
their trademarked names as a domain name because so few good names are left. But sometimes it's outright extortion as when
a Fortune 500 company name is reserved by someone that has no intention of developing a site under the domain, but
simply "parks" it somewhere and waits to be contacted by the big boys to purchase the name for astronomical fees.
A more lucrative market for domain names exists in short, memorable generic names like Loans.com or Homes.com which can apply to an entire industry as can be seen in recent news.
One of the lesser known and more frustrating issues is when a small business name or new product domain name is reserved by someone hoping to make a buck or two. Here's a question faced by small business owners getting started online.
"I've trademarked a name, but the domain name is taken, it was reserved by another company right after I registered my trademark. Do I have a legal right to the domain name?"
The following link is to a page titled "Domain Names, A Trademark Owner's Nightmare"
It discusses legal issues and cites two cases that have been taken to court over domain name hijacking.
People who do this may be doing it intentionally or innocently, but generally, you don't have a case unless you've got a long established use of the trademarked name and can prove that the registrant was intending to extort excessive fees from you in the hopes you'd buy the name back from them.
You can take it to court if you like, but it's not likely to do you any good unless you can prove that the registrant had the intent to squat on the name and not use it, hoping that you would be willing to pay excessively to get it back.