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The landing page is one of the first impressions that potential buyers will have of your domain name. It also can provide information about the name, a link for purchase or lease, and how to make contact.

However, should your name be disputed in a legal action or UDRP, that landing page can be potentially exploited by those seeking to make a case against you. So be very careful with your parking and landing pages.

In a recent discussion at NamePros, John Berryhill offered some detailed advice on the topic of landers, parking and defending domain names from disputes. He challenges some common domainer opinions, with extensive citations from UDRP cases. His comments on this important topic deserve a broader audience.

While the remarks below are specifically with respect to 3-letter acronyms, many of the principles also apply more broadly. The quotations below are from John Berryhill, although I added bold for emphasis in some cases. The links are given at the end of this article.

Famous Trademark or Common Acronym?

Most short names have possible acronym use, and probably somewhere in the world they are used as trademarks in one or more categories. It is important to be familiar with the landscape, and to know whether the trademark or generic use dominates for the letter sequence.
You have to think on a scale, and not in binary terms. Some great resources are out there like.... you'll never guess what I'm going to recommend... GOOGLE – for figuring out the relative significance of a trademark vs. acronymic meaning for a short string of letters. There are also things like acronym finder, etc.
Look through a number of pages of Google for the term, so you are familiar with the relative generic versus trademark use.

If Possible, Target Parking

Since most short acronyms will have both trademark use somewhere in the world, and generic meaning, if one is going to use a pay per click (PPC) parking page, it is important that it be targeted to the generic use only.
Targeted PPC relevant to a generic meaning - The name speaks for itself. If the name is "ELK.com" and it has PPC ads for hunting equipment, hunting lodges, hunting guides, etc., then we can be pretty sure that it wasn't registered to take advantage of some obscure Australian trademark for clothing.
Unfortunately, most parking services do not allow one to target narrowly. Even occasional cases of a parking page that directs to a trademark owner, or competitor, can lead to problems. So be very careful with parking. That said, he pointed out that many successfully defended names had used monetized parking.

Check Your Parking

If you do have parking, check carefully how it is operating.
If your names are valuable to you, and you have them on PPC, then take the time to have a look at what those names are doing. For example, if you have armbone.com and the PPC links are for ‘orthopedic doctors’, ‘vitamin D’, ‘weightlifting’, etc., then you are probably okay. But if the links come up ‘footwear’, ‘shoes’, ‘athletic shoes’, and so on, then that might be a good sign that someone is using armbone as a trademark for shoes, it is feeding back into the PPC engine, and you are going to lose a UDRP.

But What If I Don’t Know?

If you don’t know that the parking companies are occasionally linking to conflicting sites, is it okay? I mean you didn’t deliberately or knowingly target them. That is fine, right? No!
Particularly with respect to “automatically” generated pay-per-click links, panels have held that a respondent cannot disclaim responsibility for content appearing on the website associated with its domain name (nor would such links ipso facto vest the respondent with rights or legitimate interests). Neither the fact that such links are generated by a third party such as a registrar or auction platform (or their affiliate), nor the fact that the respondent itself may not have directly profited, would by itself prevent a finding of bad faith.
He goes on to add, however
While a respondent cannot disclaim responsibility for links appearing on the website associated with its domain name, panels have found positive efforts by the respondent to avoid links which target the complainant’s mark (e.g., through “negative keywords”) to be a mitigating factor in assessing bad faith.

Figuring Out An Alternative Meaning

So I have some acronym, and yes Google shows it is a famous trademark, but I can just figure out an alternative use and say that is why I acquired it. That is a good idea, right? No!
What is going to save you in a UDRP is an obvious and credible reason why the domain name has value apart from whatever narrow trademark meaning it may have. If the ONLY real significance of the name is as a trademark, you are wasting your time. If you think that "I bite monkeys" with monkey meat recipes is going to justify registering IBM, then you are wasting your time.

What If I Redirect It To My Business?

So let’s say you have an online business, and also a domain name only indirectly related to that business. Can you use the domain name to direct traffic to your site, and use that to show that you have legitimate interest in the name?
Using a famous or inherently distinctive mark to direct to your online store is going to simply be viewed as exploiting someone else's goodwill for commercial gain by diverting traffic intended for them.
Of course a truly generic name can be directed to a relevant use.

Buying and Selling Domain Names is a Proper Use

Through a series of quotations from actual decisions he clearly demonstrated that panels repeatedly have upheld buying and selling generic domain names is a legitimate business. For example, this panel stated
The Respondent is in the business of monetizing ‘generic’ and three-letter domain names. As submitted by the Respondent, a number of previous panels have found that as long as this business is not infringing on a complainant's rights in a mark, the Policy allows registration and use of domain names for this purpose.
The Panel considers that is the case here – the Respondent has a legitimate interest in marketing domain names together with custom designed logos when those names have been chosen for their generic nature and do not seek to capitalize on the Complainant’s trademark.

Coming Soon
Do not use coming soon or some other basically dishonest statement that you will be developing a name if you will not be developing a name. It doesn't help you to lie.

This Domain Name Might Be For Sale
Likewise, don't use a dumbass statement like "this name might be for sale.”

Just To Be Safe, I Won’t Have Any Lander

Perhaps you are hesitant to have any lander at all. John Berryhill says that is not a good idea, because you are giving up an opportunity to show you have a legitimate interest in buying and selling names with broad generic value, and that this name is valuable because of its generic possibilities.

What About A Lander That Just Says ‘For Sale’?

If your lander only says for sale and possibly a price, you have not clearly specified the domain name is valuable for its generic worth. With a simple ‘for sale’ lander there could be confusion on whether the name was acquired because of a trademark.
The situation is not as clear. Is the person looking to sell it for its trademark value, or for its dictionary meaning. We don't know, so let's have a look at things like previous cases with this person, what other sorts of names have they bought and sold, etc. This species of case is why it is good to have a consistent pattern of buying and selling generic names, phrases, acronyms, etc.

He goes on to urge use of domain-specific landers that stress the generic value of the name, to make it clear what the intention was when the name was acquired.
If you have a name worth $XXXX, then it is probably worth a few minutes to EXPLAIN WHY IT IS VALUABLE. Instead of simply "this name is for sale", why not expend a few words to actually SELL it.
He gives a few examples of landers that do what he has in mind.

Overall Panels Usually Get It Right

Some UDRP decision seems wrong. Because attention is focussed on these, it is easy to overlook what happens most of the time. John Berrryhill says specifically on short domains:
When someone wants to talk doom and gloom, about how the UDRP is unfair, etc., bear in mind that domain registrants win the overwhelming majority of decided three-letter .com single domain name UDRP disputes.


Dr. John Berryhill

Dr. John Berryhill is something of a legend here on NamePros. He has been a NamePros member for 17 years, and has posted more than 2500 times. Many of those posts are detailed, with numerous supporting links.

His style can be direct and bold, some might say blunt, often colorfully expressed, but always clear and soundly based. His posts have received more than 5000 likes.

He runs a Philadelphia area law practice that specializes in domain names, trademarks, patents and copyright. He has frequently represented domain investors, including many of the biggest names in domain investing, and has a stellar record of successful cases.

As well as his law degree from Widener University, he has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Delaware.

John Berryhill has participated in conferences, working groups, and task forces. He has served ICANN in several ways, including more than a decade as a voting member as a Registrar Constituency Representative.

Lonnie Borck Memorial Award

John Berryhill was awarded the Lonnie Borck Memorial Award at the NamesCon conference held in Las Vegas in early 2019. The citation honouring his work:
John is a pioneering domain name attorney who has likely handled more domain name disputes and won more Reverse Domain Name Hijacking decisions than else anyone in the world. He volunteers a considerable amount of time to work on domain name policy matters and to educate domain investors about the law. He combines a sharp wit with formidable legal analysis. In recent years he has taken up bike riding, and now rides each year with Elliot Silver in support of the Pan-Mass Challenge to raise funds for the fight against cancer.

The Lonnie Borck Memorial Award is administered by the Internet Commerce Association, and has been described as the “highest honor within the domain industry.” Recipients of the Lonnie Borck Memorial Award are:
  • Michael Cyger (2021)
  • Ron Jackson (2020)
  • John Berryhill (2019)
  • Kathy Kleiman (2018)
  • David Weslow (2017)
In the first few years the award was focussed on those who have made outstanding contributions in defending domain investor rights, while more recently it has moved to “honor those whose contributions have fostered a sense of community within the domain name industry.”

Lonnie Borck was an outstanding domain investor and entrepreneur who started multiple successful businesses. He was generous in contributing to the domain community, and his own local community. He passed away suddenly at the age of 47. Ron Jackson wrote a tribute to Lonnie Borck for DNJournal, as did Elliot Silver at Domain Investing.

It is most appropriate that John Berryhill was honoured with this memorial award. We are indeed fortunate that he contributes so actively to NamePros.

A Few Links

The quotations with respect to domain landers and parking are from the posts in the following list, in case you want to seek context and further references:
Part 3 in the recent NamePros Blog domain investing basics series covered domain parking and the UDRP, while domain name landers were covered in part 2 in the series.

I took a visual look at domain name landers, followed up by an article on 16 possible questions to ask when choosing a lander.
 
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BradWilson

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Thanks @Bob Hawkes for another great article and topic.

I'm pretty much always in agreement with everything you write, unfortunately this time I can't say that. :(

I think the FIRST impression of your domain is NOT the landing page but instead the name itself and the landing page should reinforce that impression.
 
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Thanks @Bob Hawkes for another great article and topic.

I'm pretty much always in agreement with everything you write, unfortunately this time I can't say that. :(

I think the FIRST impression of your domain is NOT the landing page but instead the name itself and the landing page should reinforce that impression.
Haha good point -- I cheated and edited to say 'one of' the first.
Thanks for pointing it out.
Bob
 
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So parking experts, is there a current monetized parking system that I could set to only have certain link categories, or else exclude certain categories? If so, which ones offer that?

Thank you in advance (I do no parking personally so don't know the options well).

Bob
 
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Don't be paranoid...
Almost all UDRP requests are sent to .com owners...
Do you really own such .COMs???
Not sure if you read the analysis of 3L UDRP cases that John Berryhill provided in the first linked article. While he just looked at the .com for the analysis, cause that is what was being discussed, there were actually more non-com.
"There have been 482 cases at WIPO in which the sole domain name at issue was three letters long.... Of these 182 were in .com"

But I think the issues raised are broader than 3L or 4L. Sure, as in everything people decide the risks associated with various things in life. I have read mention of links enough times in the few UDRP I have read that I think it is at least worth thinking about.

Thanks for your comment.

Bob

PS No I don't personally have any 3L .com :( but do have a number of 3L non-com :)
 
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I wonder where Dan.com's landing pages rank in all this?
You can put custom descriptions about the domain name, it's meaning and purpose on their landing pages.
You can display your name/company name, list your inventory of names and there are no ads.
Yes, if one does not use the hybrid pages with Bodis ads, I agree with all your points. A few well chosen words of description can stress the generic worth of each name. I personally like the Dan landers. There are of course other lander options that allow descriptions as well. Thanks for commenting.
 
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Yes, if one does not use the hybrid pages with Bodis ads, I agree with all your points. A few well chosen words of description can stress the generic worth of each name. I personally like the Dan landers. There are of course other lander options that allow descriptions as well. Thanks for commenting.
Thank you Bob, it's always great to get your take on things.

One other thing I forgot too mention is that Dan's landers also allows you to put a custom background image on them to better brand/customize your landers.
 
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