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Author Topic: Can I use a business name for a website that someone else owned but never used?  (Read 736 times)


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I purchased a domain name to set up a social website for a specific niche. After purchasing the domain, I found that it had been previously purchased by someone else in 2011 with a similar intention for it. They put up a "Coming Soon" page on the site, but never launched it. They let the domain expire a few years ago, and I purchased it earlier this year, after it was available for a couple of years. They still have a Facebook page, but it has not had an update since 2011. They have not registered any trademark that I can see, but did use a "TM" and had a logo on the Facebook page. As best I can tell, they never got it past the idea phase, and never used it in commerce.

Can I use the name? I don't want to build a website/service/community only to find out that I can't use the name.

Thank you!

Robert T Nicholson

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If the name was never used in commerce, then the prior domain owner does not have trademark rights. 

However, as you point out, building your own "brand" can be a large investment of time and money.  Depending on how much you plan on putting into this, I would recommend a trademark search.  It's cheaper than rebranding a year or two down the road.

This post is provided for information purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice.

Robert Nicholson Consulting | Copyright Safeguard | ED Treatment Center


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You can very well use the business name for a web site and can get it registered as a trade mark/domain id.


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You can very well use the business name for a web site and can get it registered as a trade mark/domain id.

How do you know?  Have you conducted a conflicts search on his behalf?

If you haven't, you should not be spouting nonsense like this.

Maybe he can use it as a mark, and maybe he can get the mark registered. 

But until he has searches conducted, he does not know if there are other,  conflicting uses of the same or too similar name.

And neither do you.
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