7/30/13

Geo Domains - Lesson Learned

Guest post by the co-worker and friend of mine that got me into domaining.  I appreciate him sharing this experience with us, so we can continue to learn from what other domainers have been through. - in this case, getting a cease and desist letter. 

A few years ago I started playing around with registering some .com and .net geo domains and building them out with some decent content with a goal of bringing in just a little extra monthly, passive income.  I didn't really expect to sell any of them, or even receive any offers, and as I expected I never did.  However, Google seemed to like what I had did with the content and most of the sites ranked fairly well within just a few months and I started getting daily clicks on ads.  I was pretty happy with my experiment and it brought in another $50 or so each month.

What I failed to realize while registering the names is that all of them were non-trademarked, government owned nature parks......except for one.  I blindly assumed it was a non-trademarked name just like all the others and went about my business developing the site out.  For a couple years I was ranked on page 1 of Google for the keyword name of the nature park my site was about and the site actually performed better than any of my other geo domain sites.  I thought all was well....

Earlier this year I received a nasty cease and desist letter from a law firm representing the private company that owns the nature park.  On top of it being a privately owned company, the name of the park is also trademarked.  Bad news.  I had no idea what to do but fortunately I have a good friend that's a lawyer and though he's not an intellectual property or domain name lawyer, he was able to guide me through the process.

The first thing he recommended is what got me through it quickly and without paying a dime:  he instructed me to immediately give up the name to them (per their demand in the C&D letter) and to respond to them professionally and apologize (despite how nasty the tone of the letter was...).  In my opinion, all I was doing was helping drive more attention to them and helping to bring them visitors....but they didn't see it that way.  My friend assisted me with obtaining a settlement agreement which the other party signed and I was good to go.

It was pretty easy to tell during this transaction that the company has the law firm on retainer which is why they most likely didn't try to come at me for anything other than the name.  I have a feeling someone brought it to the owner's attention and they didn't like the fact that another site was out there somehow "falsely" misrepresenting them (again...I didn't see it that way...) and so they sent their attorney after me to get the name.

I suppose it could have been a lot worse....but definitely a lesson learned.

1 comments:

Tony Stark said...

Thanks for the useful sharing on points to be aware while registering a domain name. It was very useful for me. I use to register all my domain names from TheWebPole.com at low cost with 24/7 customer support. I am satisfied with their service.

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