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Registering Expired Domains - Risks of Trademark or Past Business Usage


I've tried to do quite a bit of research and read through threads, but I still feel a bit confused and unclear.

In simplest terms, what's the best way to be in the clear on buying an expired domain with no trademark or legal risks?

For example, if a domain name is ran through the USPTO TESS search, is that sufficient?

Is the act of registering a domain that expired and then listing it for sale using a lander right after, e.g, Afternic, etc exposing you to additional risk?

If a domain that expired used to be a business or website but seems inactive for a year or longer, but has no trademark registered with USPTO, is there any risk?

Is it a problem if a domain that expired has a lot of social media accounts still held that are dead? Is it possible to acquire those accounts? Do they get in the way of the domain user's ability to use the name on social media?

What about the fact trademarks tend to usually be industry specific? For example, let's say ebgoo (making this up) was an expired domain) available to register. You aren't aware of a business with that name, but then find a business using that name (non-trademarked with USPTO though) -- you are selling the domain on Afternic. Selling on Afternic isn't exactly saying what industry you're operating in... so what happens?

What if it's also an issue of a word or partial brand match as an acronym? For example, I saw a domain that expired was and someone registered that. That's clearly two dictionary words (like saying "wow that's BS"!) However, could it refer to world of warcraft? Yes. Let's say I got it, but I didn't intend for that when I registered it. Now what?

I do things by the book and want to ensure I'm not engaging in any risk or doing anything wrong.

With that said, if I unexpectedly acquired a domain that I was unaware infringed something --- am I highly exposed to liability or in most cases because of it being an innocent mistake can I simply turn over the domain in the dispute or... well, hopefully you can help me from spiraling down this rabbit hole.

Thanks so much for your help!

P.S. I'm an old user of namepros, but I still need to brush up on this, as I have a renewed interest in learning about this again :)
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Top Contributor
Well, don't you worry about it too much. There is no proven 100% way of NOT getting in trouble with someones' TM. The subject of TM is extremely complicated. There are lots of nuances, if you start learning them all, you won't buy a single name, I guarantee you this ))

Check your name here, if it's not listed, go ahead and buy it (of course if it fits all your other criterias):
Also, the rule of thumb is to keep away from all known large brands and well known organisations.

For the rest - don't waste too much time thinking about it.

Good luck!!
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