Thursday, August 09, 2007

Stake Your Domain Claim - Be Prepared to Fight

A few times this year I've seen a disturbing trend taking place on the Internet.

I've established websites utilizing a domain and the website name that no one else had.  One to three months after I had my website up another website would pop up with a very similar domain and an identical website name or title.  I would see a cease-and-desist letter coming from this new website claiming to have owned the rights to the domain and the title of the website.

Now my websites were up first and not exactly trying to argue if I'm right or wrong here, but I would like to point out to you that there are some shady things going on and you need to be prepared to protect yourself otherwise you'll be bouncing off the chandeliers trying to prove that you're in the right after the fact.

Here are some things that you can do to document that you've been there first

  1. perform a Google search on the domain name, the title of the website and take time stamp PDF copies of the results
  2. do the same thing for the websites that appear under those search results especially if they're similar to what you're planning to do
  3. if you purchase a domain name ending and notice that the domains are not taken already, consider buying them so that no one else will and if you can't do that take a screenshot of the fact that those websites are either still available or not being utilized -- especially if they're parked
  4. If somebody comes at you with a claimed that they were there first, perform a look back search to see if they actually did have their website up.  Look back will provide you a historical view of their website and what was there a month ago or two months ago or a year ago.
  5. Register your company as an LLC or a corporation.  The due diligence and vetting process to come up with a name for your company and get registered will help you identify of there any companies with a similar name in your state.  That might also tip you off to a web presence and will provide you with a reasonable protection that you can at least use your company name.
  6. Be prepared to fight for your domain territory.  Domains are kind of like mining claims and space is running out.  You might pay seven dollars to register a domain, but in a market where the supply is evaporating that seven dollar domain could be worth $1000 minutes after you register it. 

Recognize that your domain and website are valuable and be prepared to hold on to your claim!

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