If you are starting a new business or looking to set up a website for any reason, finding out that your desired domain name is taken can be frustrating. Sometimes it requires you to get creative; other times, you may be able to take certain steps to acquire the name. Depending on the web hosting services that are hosting the domain, you may have different options to pursue.
It is important to carefully research your options if you encounter challenges when trying to establish your domain name.
Offering to Purchase the Domain Name
You can learn the contact information of the owner through a service such as https://lookup.icann.org/lookup. However, the owner’s contact information is not necessarily always public. The contact information may also be present on the website itself.
Beware of a technique called “domain squatting” or “cybersquatting” when you finally do make contact with the domain owner. This technique involves an individual buying a domain name and holding it for a period of time until someone wants to purchase it. The price for the domain name is then inflated and the owner will request an exorbitant price. If this occurs, you can contact the web hosting services that are hosting the domain name for a possible resolution.
If you encounter a domain name owner who is operating in good faith and is willing to sell the domain at a reasonable price, this may be one way to resolve your issue. Unfortunately, it takes more time and will cost you money. There are other possibilities open to you that will cost less and save time.
Modify the Name You Want
This is a possibility depending on whether you feel it will not have any major impact on your goals. Remember that domain names should be simple and to the point. For example, if you wanted to have the word “Company” in your domain name, but the exact phrase is already taken, perhaps you could shorten it to “Co” instead of “Company.” It may not be precisely what you had in mind, but it will still get the point across. Get creative, so long as you feel your goal will still be accomplished.
You can also change the suffix to “.net” or “.org.” It is reasonable to seek out a “.com” instead because that is the most popular suffix; however, that is not always an option. Even though this is a quick solution, it may be problematic in drawing traffic to your site. Those less-used suffixes are not as popular for that reason. You may also want to be careful that you are not inadvertently infringing on another domain’s name. It is also possible to add a country to your suffix that will allow you to separate your domain from others. For example, you could add “.uk” or “.us” to the ending.
Start Over With the Name
If your business or website idea is in its infancy stage, it may save you more time and energy to just take a step back and rethink the name you want. Although it is not what you had in mind in the first place, it may protect you from someone else filing a trademark infringement as well.
Additionally, if someone else already owns your desired domain name, starting over with a new name may help to avoid confusion. If you come up with something completely different, you will likely worry less about viewers going to the wrong website, getting confused, or possibly even visiting your competitor’s website instead of yours.
Simplify the Name
If your company or website idea has a long name, it may be worthwhile to try simplifying it or abbreviating it. Website names are more effective when they are shortened and simplified. This allows users to more easily remember them, or to more easily share the website information through word-of-mouth.
If your domain name is part of a trademarked brand or phrase, you may be able to file a trademark infringement lawsuit. In this scenario, you would take the domain name owner to court and if you prevail, the domain name will be handed over to you. It is also possible you may be awarded monetary damages if you can prove the defendant has caused you to lose money. This approach will cost money in the form of retaining an attorney; however, if you prevail, you may also be awarded attorney’s fees.
This approach may also take a long time. Litigation in these matters can move slowly, depending on the jurisdiction. It is best to consult with an experienced attorney in this matter if you have exhausted other, simpler options.
ICANN is an international nonprofit organization that oversees and manages domain names around the world. They are the entity previously mentioned that manages the system in which you can look up domain name owners at https://lookup.icann.org/lookup. ICANN has a system called Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), which will allow you to initiate a dispute if you encounter trademark infringement or cybersquatting.
If you do encounter trademark infringement and the domain name owner is in a foreign country, you may have an even more complicated lawsuit if you retain an attorney. Litigating international law is expensive, complicated, and time-consuming. Resolving disputes through UDRP may be a more effective way to acquire your domain name.
UDRP can also be an effective way to resolve cybersquatting disputes.
UDRP disputes on average cost between $1,000 and $2,500. They are resolved on average within 57 days. That is significantly less expensive and less time-consuming than hiring an attorney to litigate the matter.
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