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  1. #1

    * How similar is too similar

    What are some guidelines when choosing a domain name? I have registered a short com domain. Later I have learned that a big international company have the name exactly as mine but one letter shorter. (for instance my name is abcdefgh.com and their's is abdefgh.com)

    I plan to develop my own content for that site. Only small part of the content will have something very remotely in common with that big company. The majority of the products and services that I'll provide will have nothing in common with that other company. Domain is registered in good faith, it is NOT registered to sell that domain to anyone. I will develop my own content. I choose that domain because I like it and it's short.

    The only problem is similarity to that other company's name.
    But to be honest when you choose a domain of like 7 characters it really can't be unique so you can dispute many many domains on the internet.

    Finally, my question: how similar is too similar? If the names are very similar (one letter less difference) but it is registered in good faith and it is meant to be used for a legitime business, am I risking loosing that name?

    Sorry, I will not write down the name I registered.

  2. #2
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    You can gain benefit of clicks, i assume is a "s" the last letter. I suggest go to other diff name.
    Each registrar is a tool. Not all Tools are for the same thing

  3. #3
    I'm not quite sure what you meant by "s". After I reread my post again, I came to conclusion you might have thought about googles? No, my domain has nothing to do with Google nor with singular/plural name. The letter left out is one of the letters in the middle of the name. It has nothing with trying to mislead the customers. It's just a very similar but different name.

    My concern is basically that someone might interpret my name as a typosquattering. But I assure you it's not. I bought it for genuine reasons: to build up an unique content. So there is really no bad faith in all this, but the similarity concerns me.

    If I'd go choose another name, I doubt I'd find the short one as this one and even if I choose a long name it could again be too similar to some other name.

    In the meanwhile, I did some WHOIS search. It appears that the company holds only the com domain while other (net, org, ....) are registered to some other parties and some of them are plain parked pages with ads.

    To conclude, if the company wanted to pursuit domain names they should start with those net, org, .... domains that are exactly as their com domain, shouldn't they?
    I'd really hate to build up my own brand and then to have to give up on it.

  4. #4
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    I say if hi are "house.com" sounds as you have "houses.com", "s" for plurals.

    Anyway, i think you can get a real handicap making a diff with them... i go ASAP for other name.
    Each registrar is a tool. Not all Tools are for the same thing

  5. #5
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    You'll be ok. But I'd definitely steer away from any overlapping content.
    Signature Under Construction.

  6. #6
    The page design is different, the logo is different, the industry is different, the whole approach to building Internet presence is different.

    There should be no intentional confusion with our two companies. I was just concerned with similarity in name, and out of all products and services one is just remotely similar, but still very different in nature.

    I believe any reasonable man who see those two sites would agree that those are two different companies.

    Topic closed. Thanks

  7. #7
    Well, what it really boils down to is how the "effected" company sees your domain name.

    If they see you as possibly encroaching on their trademarks, then they will certainly send you a cease & desist order, etc... Most large companies will do this even if your domain is the tiny bit similar.

    If the company has a lot of money, or they feel their case is justified against you, then they will submit a UDRP against you. They might also sue you.

    If your website contains even ONE word of content that is similar to theirs.. then they will be able to meet all the requirements of the dispute resolution process and you will lose the domain.

    If you are going to keep the "similar" domain, then you should be familiar with the dispute resolution process and make sure you do NOT meet the 3 requirements.

    IMHO, it is better to brand your new company with a totally unrelated and non-similar domain. (Rather then run the risk of trouble later once this other company notices you. Which they will.)
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  8. #8
    That's pretty much the thing that I'm concerned about: even though I'm starting this business in good faith, the real question is, as you noticed, how does that other company looks at all this.

    I was browsing through UDRP decisions and it defending 2nd and 3rd requirements (I have legitimate interests in respect of the domain name and the domain name has been registered and used in good faith). If I'm incorporated under that name then I can defend the 1st requirement too.

    But lets be fair, even if I choose to drop this name and register a new one (which will be problem to find taking that this is a short name) another company may pop up and claim that domain just like this one can. So, it looks to me as mission impossible.

    So no matter what name you choose some random company may file a UDRP compliant. But given that I have plans to make an honest business out of this, I think (hold your fingers crossed) I should be safe. It would be a big disappointment that even though I run a legitimate business some other company shuts me down just because they have more money. That just wouldn't be fair.

    I do not want to call out anyone, but just as an example, couldn't the webhostingtalk.com file complaint about webhosting.info (and vice versa)? Although that possibility exists (similar name, similar content) I think that both site owners run a fair business and shutting down wouldn't be fair, would it? It's a tricky situation, but I hope there are some reasonable people sitting in the UDRP panel.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by jicrucli View Post
    But lets be fair, even if I choose to drop this name and register a new one (which will be problem to find taking that this is a short name) another company may pop up and claim that domain just like this one can. So, it looks to me as mission impossible.
    No, it is not mission impossible to find a name that nobody else is using. Consider that some companies spend several MILLION dollars to find a name....

    If you are going to choose a name that is "similar" to another established company's trademark, then you run a very high risk of that other company pursuing action against you. They are bound to do so to protect their mark.

    Quote Originally Posted by jicrucli View Post
    So no matter what name you choose some random company may file a UDRP compliant.
    Yes, anyone may file a claim against anyone else. however, the judges are pretty smart, and they will not award the domain unless it is a valid case...

    Quote Originally Posted by jicrucli View Post
    But given that I have plans to make an honest business out of this, I think (hold your fingers crossed) I should be safe.
    That might not be enough, if your domain is similar to a trademark held by the other company. Especially if you are selling a similar product/service. (Which you have already admitted WILL be the case on a small area of your website.)

    Quote Originally Posted by jicrucli View Post
    I do not want to call out anyone, but just as an example, couldn't the webhostingtalk.com file complaint about webhosting.info (and vice versa)?
    The term "webhosting" is not considered a trademarked term because it is commonly used. However, for the sake of argument, if webhostingtalk DID have a trademark on the term, then yes.. they could file a dispute and they would probably win.

    I think you need to consider what the term 'fair' means, from both sides of the argument. If you own a trademark, and someone else opens a store and starts selling something that is similar... and uses your trademark term, or something very close to it... then would you sit back and think, "Hey, it's ok." or would you actively try to protect your trademark and your business?
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by mrzippy View Post
    No, it is not mission impossible to find a name that nobody else is using.
    Perhaps I wrote it too hard. Indeed it's not impossible, but it is pretty much hard. I spent weeks (sure, I was NOT searching it every day all day long) to find this one. I strived to avoid any name that is even remotely similar to any major brand (micro, solutions, .....) and I came to this name. I was disappointed to learn about this similarity.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrzippy View Post
    If you are going to choose a name that is "similar" to another established company's trademark, then you run a very high risk of that other company pursuing action against you. They are bound to do so to protect their mark.
    Although I'm subjective about this, I see your point. What I don't understand is why would they go after me (with a similar name) and they leave the same name domain (but under different top level domain like net, org, biz. info, ....) as they are. I think they don't care about that much. But even so, if they decide to pursue them all in 5 years from now, then all this doesn't make much sense. They can change their policy and sue all of us. That would be a potential (I emphasize the word potential) problem for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrzippy View Post
    Yes, anyone may file a claim against anyone else. however, the judges are pretty smart, and they will not award the domain unless it is a valid case...
    I kinda count on that. If I have incorporated business, a domain that I conduct a fair business, I registered it for my own purposes and NOT to disrupt their business or to make money SOLELY on that name, I believe I could defend my rights (if I ever come to the situation I need to defend it)

    Quote Originally Posted by mrzippy View Post
    That might not be enough, if your domain is similar to a trademark held by the other company. Especially if you are selling a similar product/service. (Which you have already admitted WILL be the case on a small area of your website.)
    Indeed, a similarity exist in one of the products but it's a very remote. The similarity is that we both will have an electronic device. But that's it. Those devices do not perform the same functionality at all. The only similarity is that they are both electronic devices.
    Furthermore, that device of mine is not my core business. My core business is something else (I am sorry that I'm speaking in such a mysterious way but I would rather not disclose any concrete info).

    Quote Originally Posted by mrzippy View Post
    The term "webhosting" is not considered a trademarked term because it is commonly used.
    Yeah, I oversight that. As I understand that makes a huge difference in cases like this.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrzippy View Post
    However, for the sake of argument, if webhostingtalk DID have a trademark on the term, then yes.. they could file a dispute and they would probably win.
    What if that term is not widely recognized (like google, network solutions, yahoo, ipod, ....)? They have a brand, they have an international business, but even so, if I told you the name lots of you might not know that company. (they are from far east)


    Quote Originally Posted by mrzippy View Post
    I think you need to consider what the term 'fair' means, from both sides of the argument. If you own a trademark, and someone else opens a store and starts selling something that is similar... and uses your trademark term, or something very close to it... then would you sit back and think, "Hey, it's ok." or would you actively try to protect your trademark and your business?
    I could not agree with you more. Trademark issues are much more too serious to be discussed in such a free way like we're two are discussioning it here. But, if that other company does not try to make advantage of that name but they are from completely different industry, that could make a case of honest business intention, at least I see it that way.

    Thank you for all of your input.

    (I'm searching for some other name, but I have no luck, and as I noticed earlier, even if I find such a name, in 5 years some other random company could pop up and claim their rights). I'll go with this name and make sure that my business is the honest one and does not try to make a confusion or take advantage of the name, in any way.

    Sorry for the long post, but this topic really bothered me.

  11. #11
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    You should consult a lawyer well versed in domains and trademarks. Depending on what they say, you could get them to write to the company notifying them of your intentions to use the domain name for your business and ask if they have any objections.
    Signature Under Construction.

  12. #12
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    My 2 cents.

    First of all, not all companies are like M$ that treat buys because they brood that MikeRoweSoft.com is similar to Microsoft.com. So you should take a look how that company leads with it. If you say there are other domains with same name and different TLD and they still did nothing, they must not have worried with other domains in the first time and let them be registered by anybody else.
    Is it a company that has profit from visits or their site is just to show info about their business?

    Also, a 6-char name can have lots of 5 and 7 char similar names. They can't pretend to own they all. And if they want, why they didn't register them at the first place, or bought this domain above you?

    Anyway, contact them with Request Read Receipt saying yoy own this domain and what you want with it, and ask what they think of it. If they don't do a move to solve it now, later you can use this contact to your favor.

  13. #13
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    I'd follow stu2's advice: talk to an attorney.

    And I would not follow Hikari's advice and send them a letter. Let your attorney send the letter. He or she will avoid the common mistakes that a layman would make and will spin the language in the letter in such a way as to work in your favor.

    The bottom line is: if you're the least bit concerned, which is a foregone conclusion, talk to an attorney. Legal advise is best gotten from legal professionals.

  14. #14
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    OF course if you are willing to spend money paying a lawyer, let him do the job

    But is this domain so important to you that you want to spend so much money on it? Why don't you do the trick then and register it as a trademark? If you are able to do so nobody will be able to get it from you.

    At least I think that if you are allowed to register a trademark to use it commercially they can't take it from you later.

    Anyway, if you want to spend some money to have more security do it right now.

    I still don't think a company that didn't bother to register its .net name and neither buy your name on auction will try to treat you. Unless you start receiving nice profits from your site and they understand you are using their trademark for it.

  15. #15
    Thank you all for giving your thoughts on this one.

    I'm a bit reluctant on asking them an approval mail. That would be basically saying "I want to start a business and I think you must approve it first.". I don't think they should have a voice in all this. I feel I'm not infringing any rights of theirs but rather I'm starting a legitimate and long-term business. Different industry, different design, logo, approach, different everything (but similar name and one product just a remotely similar but very different in it's purpose and target audience).
    And as Hikari noticed, whatever short name I choose, there will be many similar names and they can't (or to be more precise: shouldn't be allowed to) claim them all.

    I rerun check on domains again. They own only .com domain, and all other are owned by third parties (having parked ads page or no page at all). They don't seem to care about that much. The problem would be if they would start caring in lets say 5 years from now and then start raising disputes.

    As for the content, they have a catalog of their products with some other service links.

    And thanks for bringing up a trademark registration option.

  16. #16
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    How long they registered their domain? And how long the other TLD are registered? And how long ur domain is registered?

    IDK how is law on USA, but I can't believe they can start processing ppl years later domains and websites are created.

    IF their domain is the first they should have registered the others first. If not, they should have complained when they were created. Why they didn't complain before?

    And if other domains were created first, they knew this could happen.

    The major complain is why they didnt buy/register these domains when they could?

    It seems thsi company indeed have profit from visits And you are worring too much.

    If u can use ur domain u should do it and forget the rest, if u can't u should stop it now. Try to register the domain as trademark and ask the person about the other domain, or at least ask what may happen if there is another company with a mark similar to you. Is it possible to lose your trademark even after registering it? Phone whoever register marks and ask them, if they say that after the mark is registered you can't lose it anymore just register it and be good.

  17. #17
    Sorry for continuing of keeping it all vague and not revealing the exact info.
    Their domain is the first one registered with that name (x.com, x.net, x.org, ...). It's over 10 years old. Other most popular gTLDs (net, org, info, biz, etc) are registered, lets say 5 years ago (not all on the same year and by various owners).

    I too am NOT a lawyer but I think they can pledge ignorance and claim my domain even after 5 years from now. They just say that they weren't informed about that earlier and that is the reason why they didn't dispute it earlier.

    I know it counts for nothing but: I vouch that I registered that domain in good faith and for honorable purposes, and NOT to gain any visitors nor money from anyone on account of the similarity in name.
    I just don't know how much will UDRP board will see it as I do.
    As for the trademark, I seriously doubt they have registered their's in every single country in the world so registering my trademark wouldn't be a problem but I'm unsure will that help me should they ever file a dispute over my domain.

    To summarize, as to my understanding, there are 3 points that they must prove in order to claim my domain. The first one is the most problematic for me: the name. In my favor, it's a short name and therefore it's difficult to find many unique names. The second point: legitimate use. Building a site with a rich unique content should cover me on that. And finally: good faith. I didn't registered that domain to resell it nor to solely put ads on it.

    As for the lawyer (which I too think I should hire), there aren't any good lawyers near me (there are lots of lawyers but I do not know about a single one that provides quality services IN THIS FIELD of the law and that have transparent and reasonable prices). But in a year or so I'll get one because I'll need some other documents assembled too (like terms of use and similar) and then I shall find a quality lawyer (preferably one from the US).

    As a conclusion, I'll go ahead using my domain and hope that company and my company will be good neighbors as I don't see any reasonable reason why all of the sudden they will let others have net org and other extensions on the same name and go after me with a different name.

    OK, I think we can now finally close this thread. Perhaps I was a bit overworrying, but that's just because I want to do this all right and not to build a brand and then to give it up over a reason like this.
    Last edited by jicrucli; 05-29-2008 at 12:19 PM.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by jicrucli View Post
    To summarize, as to my understanding, there are 3 points that they must prove in order to claim my domain. The first one is the most problematic for me: the name. In my favor, it's a short name and therefore it's difficult to find many unique names. The second point: legitimate use. Building a site with a rich unique content should cover me on that. And finally: good faith. I didn't registered that domain to resell it nor to solely put ads on it.
    That's for the UDRP. Do note that a trademark holder has a variety of means to try resolving a potential trademark dispute, namely sending a C&D, making a phone call, or even suing in court.

    Essentially, domain-trademark disputes boil down to likelihood of confusion, which is what trademarks aim to prevent. If they're prepared to demonstrate their claims, be ready to demonstrate yours and disprove theirs if possible.

    Good luck and good hunting.

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