Intellectual Property Law
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What are my rights of continued ownership of my domain? I own a domain name. I received a letter from an attorney representing a company that claims they own the right to that particular domain. They claim I was using the domain name for illegal purposes. It was not known to me but the name was forwarding clicks to my domain to other web sites. Having learned that was happening I cut off sites immediatelly. I never received anything from anyone in regard to the web site forwarding. It appears that my domain name ownership may predate the company that is trying to take it away. and there are other busineses that use the same name They said they would pay me $500 -according to them not a negociable offer". And at the same time they threatened an action against me. Is this a common situation? Should I just give up and let them take it away. Unfortunately, I do not know if my domaine name has value in excess of what they offered.
I inherited this domain, so it cannot be claimed that I acquired it with the purpose to sell, rent etc, prevent the owner from use etc.
Hello, I will be assisting you
I'm sure this is concerning to you. Let me explain to you the law and what your options are
Generally speaking, if a Federal trademark has been registered, the trademark owner has the right and in fact the duty to protect its rights under the name and prevent others from using the mark in a manner that would be confusing to the public. So If the company that sent you the cease and desist letter has a Federal trademark then they they have right to exclude other uses of the mark provided such use is within the classification of their trademark. There are 45 classification categories and though generally the same mark can exist in different classifications one would not be able to use the mark within the same classification. So if for example the trademark is for XYZ in the food category one can use the XYZ name for car tires but one cannot use the XYZ for another food product.
For domain owners if you are using a trademark in a confusing manner (i.e. for products and services within the same classification) or if you are just squatting on a domain (i.e. you own it but you do not use) then the trademark owner can initiate a domain dispute resolution with ICANN. ICANN the body that overseas all internet domains and it has a process in place to make sure that trademark owners can protect their marks.
If a domain dispute process is brought against you and your use (not merely ownership but actual use) of the domain pre-dates the mark and the use falls within a different classification and therefore would not be confusing to consumers then you would have to note this during the dispute process.
During this process the claim that your site was forwarding traffic to other sites which may have been the true trademark infringes would also be examined.
The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that a domain simply cannot be taken away from you without this process so be diligent and submit the relevant opposition if a dispute process is initiated!
In conclusion, don't give up!. You make good and reasonable arguments. Use the process to your advantage!
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