Domain Names, Registration, and Trademarks

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Just a reminder that the ability to use something on the Internet doesn’t give you the legal right to do so. A newspaper publisher is suing two women for using the term “Leelanau pages” on websites because of alleged trademark infringement.

No matter how this particular case turns out, there’s a key legal issue you remember. If someone owns the trademark, service mark, or registered trademark, you may infringe upon that mark by using a similar word or phrase as your site’s domain name. Simply because a domain name can be registered doesn’t mean it is legally available for use.

Internet Attorney: Cybersquatting Draws Microsoft’s Wrath

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After suing hundreds of cybersquatting domain name owners last year for infringing on its trademarked terms, Microsoft (MSFT) has announced that it will launch a new round of lawsuits against cybersquatters. Many of these defendants won’t be able to afford an Internet attorney.

Just because a domain name is available to be registered, doesn’t necessarily give you the legal right to use it. Grabbing a domain that includes some company’s name and sitting on it hoping for a big pay day can be considered cybersquatting.

If the name contains a trademarked term, you run the risk of having the trademark owner filing suit. Be sure to consult with your Internet attorney to reduce your risk of getting sued.

Hat tip to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for its take on the Microsoft cybersquatting lawsuits.