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The Term "Bank" in a Domain Name

Labeled as question in Legal Discussion started by dande, May 7, 2018.

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  1. dande

    dande Established Member

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    Hello Friends,

    Recently I have been working on a new capital intensive venture, and I have been trying to get everything right.

    So, I decided to acquire a premium domain name to use for this project.

    The domain is in upper 5-fingure and we are about to agree on final price and payment terms.

    However, the name has the term "Bank" in it. But the business we intend to start is a non financial service business.

    Is there any possible regulatory implication of having "Bank" in a business name? Something like "ClickBank.com"?

    Please, kindly advice before I agree to this deal... It is very urgent as I am about to send out the mail for the final offer.

    Thanks for being there.

    DAN
     
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  2. golan

    golan Leo.Domains Gold Account VIP

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    ClickBank, you are right. And what about Sperm Bank? Power Bank? River Bank? What institution may regulate those?

    [​IMG]
     
  3. dande

    dande Established Member

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    @golan thank you for that. I am really worried they could be a regulatory huddle. These names you mentioned are general terms. Wouldn't it be a different issue when someone wants to add the term on a private business name?
     
  4. CrazyTech

    CrazyTech Small Town Guy VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    I work in the industry, but am not a lawyer. (I work with those too.) :)

    In terms of regulations, the financial realm is ornery. Regulation has more to do with the actual business function of the institution, though. You would be chartered as whatever classification as a banking institution if you were to be regulated.

    The term bank itself is not a trigger term, particularly if you're not banking money.

    I don't blame you on being cautious, ftw.
     
  5. dande

    dande Established Member

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    Thank you @CrazyTech for that info. I think I'll restrict the use of bank to the domain name only, while I incorporate a different name as the actual business entity who owns ***Bank.com as the domain name?

    Initially I was thinking of Incorporating ***Bank Inc.
     
  6. dande

    dande Established Member

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    I just stumbled on a PDF, and now I have goosebumps all over. Can someone please read the attached PDF and save a brother.

    Before I commit over $50k to this domain.

    Below is the first two pages of the PDF doc:-

    RE:
    Use of “Bank” in “DomainBank.com”
    Dear Mr. Puri:
    Thank you for your email communication
    (hereinafter, “Inquiry”)
    , in which you have
    requested of the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (hereinafter,
    “DFI”) its
    determination as to the propriety of using “Bank” in “DomainBank.com.”
    This matter has been
    referred to me for interpretation in my capacity as general legal counsel for the DFI and on
    behalf of the Division of Banks.
    1.0
    Representations
    You have represented that your company,
    a Delaware corporation doing
    business in Washington State (hereinafter,
    “Company”), owns a Delaware subsidiary
    (hereinafter,
    “Subsidiary”) organized as a limited liability company (
    hereinafter,
    “LLC”). You
    have further represented that your Subsidiary is considering buying the assets of a certain
    Pennsylvania corporation. According to you, one of those assets under your review is the Internet
    domain name: “DomainBank.com.”
    As represented on your Company’s Web site,
    (hereinafter,
    “Web
    Site”), your Company holds itself
    out as a vendor of domain registrations and as a purveyor of
    affiliated email accounts, Web hosting services, and associated Web design services. Neither
    Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

    Division of Ban
    ks
    DOB Interpretive Letter No. 2005
    -
    ∙ Use of “Bank” in “DomainBank.com

    Date: April 29
    , 2005 ∙ Page
    2
    of
    6
    Pages
    your Company nor your Subsidiary
    1
    is a bank or trust company, or engaged in banking or trust
    business in Washington State or any other state or foreign country.
    2.0
    Question
    You have expressly asked whether your Company and its Subsidiary may use the term
    “DomainBank” as a trade
    name and/or Internet domain.
    3.0
    Summary Answer
    Because of the importance of the Internet today, this matter is of heightened significance
    to the Division of Banks and the general public. Based on your representations in Section 1.0
    above, we have concluded from your question [Section 2.0 above] that Washington State law
    cle
    arly prohibits the use of the term “Bank” by your Company or Subsidiary
    [See Section 4.0
    be
    low] unless authorized by the Director of the DFI or his designee, the Director of the Division
    of Banks.
    Based upon the nature of your business (as represented in Section 1.0 above) and our
    concern for the general public as expressed in Section 4.0 below
    , the Division of Banks declines
    to authorize any use of the word “Bank” by your Company or Subsidiary in the
    conduct of its
    present business or any other non-banking or non-mortgage lending activity that would involve
    doing
    business in Washington State or interaction with Washington State residents. Moreover,
    unless your Company or Subsidiary hereafter becomes a national bank or a state-chartered bank,
    sa
    vings bank, savings and loan association, alien bank authorized to do business in this state, or
    qua
    lified mortgage lender pursuant to RCW 30.04.020(3), then your Company or Subsidiary
    may not use the word “Bank” as any part of its name, trade name
    , alter ego or other business
    designation, including Internet domain. This includes, without limitation, any use of the term
    “Bank” in association with “Domain,” so as to form the name “DomainBank,” or the like.
    While we cannot officially opine on the laws of other states, we note that there may be
    several other states that prohibit the use of the word “Bank” in connection with businesses t
    hat
    are not engaged in banking, or otherwise require the discretionary permission of their respective
    departments of financial institutions prior to use.
    2
    In any event, if you sought to use
    “DomainBank”
    in connection with your Web Site or any other Web site, the DFI would reserve
    its plenary authority in such a situation to
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 7, 2018
  7. golan

    golan Leo.Domains Gold Account VIP

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    Wow. Would like to hear from our lawyers here.

    What is the nature of your business?

    Seems spermbank.com didn't bother to ask bank authorities, they are licensed instead by American Association of Tissue Banks who for sure have forgotten to ask any financial authority to allow them the usage of the word "Bank".

    Likewise, clickbank.com, riverbank.org, etc etc, i think they would say f*ck off to any bank regulator.
     
  8. CrazyTech

    CrazyTech Small Town Guy VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    This really needs to go to a lawyer at this point if you desire to proceed.

    So I looked up a few state laws and most states do not allow the term "bank" or do make some distinction, one way or another. There are several exceptions and there is no law at the national level. All news to my ears, but in my defense I was thinking at the national level.

    For example, here's a carve-out in Georgia:
    As far as legal opinions go, you have one from the proper entity in your state and it's pretty plain (and aggressively worded). At this point, I'd think you'd be choosing to challenge the law if you decide to proceed.

    I suspect why some of these other websites may exist probably has to do with their age and it seems as though the burden for them would be to prove the owner(s) knew that they weren't legally able to use the domain. Likely a case of bigger fish to fry.

    Are there any Jos A. Banks in Washington state? :xf.rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
  9. platey

    platey Active Member VIP

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    When One of the worlds biggest investors in software businesses that has that word in their domain starts to worry but to be fair they dont have a state they have a dictionary word and that word in dot com

    I also own

    A two keyword dot com with a dictionary keyword as one of the words and that word as,the other word in dot com

    But its,not a state etc

    And its potential buyer is google or facebook who won't mind spending a few quid having fun and games with the banks
     
  10. MapleDots

    MapleDots Domain Properties 2010 - 2018 VIP

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    Rusty-Riverbank.jpg

    Riverbank has nothing to do with a bank. There are many applications for the word bank but as soon as you combine it with a financial term then the meaning becomes obvious.

    PS. The term Bank in the financial sector is protected and that is why credit unions are always arguing to be allowed to use the banking terminology.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
  11. lolwarrior

    lolwarrior Founder, Brands.International VIP

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    Before spending this amount of money, why not to speak to professional lawyer? :)

    The advice on forum from no- laweyrs is not going to help you. There are several layers on your question, and they can not be answered really without knowing the exact name, and it is not wise to post exact name on this forum imo before you do a purchase.

    I usually like to read answers from this very experienced ip lawyer who is member of this forum, maybe you can PM him...
    @jberryhill
     
  12. dande

    dande Established Member

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    Thanks guys for the invaluable contributions so far. Even the few phone calls I've made so far to 4 different lawyers has thrown up more confusing info. Three gave me go ahead while the other strongly advised against the deal, providing some strong valid arguments. So, now it's 3-1 in favor of the deal.

    I don't think I will back out of the domain deal for some reasons

    1. The negotiation has gone on for too long with compromises here and there. A lot of time and efforts has gone into this to now call it a quit. As a domainer myself, I'll be mad if someone lead me into a lengthy negotiation only to back out in the end.

    2. My mind keeps referencing Clickbank.com. If they can do it, sure I too can. I don't know how but I believe I'd pull through.

    3. Wouldn't be better if I feign ignorance, then try and cross the bridge when we get there? At worst I'll add the domain in my portfolio and resell it. Good domain is very scarce in the very industry.

    4. When I started the negotiation, I was inquiring for 6 different names. 4 has been sold within that period of time, one belongs to Rick (Domain King) who insisted on $1.3million. This looks like my last chance to own and operate my business on a truly world class domain in the industry.

    Still I am open to more advice. Pls keep it coming, you may save a brother from falling into trouble.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
  13. dande

    dande Established Member

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    Sorry, I am unable to mention the name or the business in fear some geniuses here may guess it right and spell the name out :xf.grin:

    However, the business is related to entertainment
     
  14. Dave

    Dave Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    EntertainmentBank.com? :xf.grin:
     
  15. dande

    dande Established Member

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    LOL... You so wrong. Pls stop. Don't guess again

    And who pays high 5-figure for this?
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
  16. frank-germany

    frank-germany F1lter.com xpired domain search engine Gold Account VIP

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    it would be very stupid to quote the name here

    it's most likely
    "rivers of Babylon bank"
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
  17. Dave

    Dave Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    I was joking my friend. :)

    I wish you all the best in the acquisition of your domain name.
     
  18. MapleDots

    MapleDots Domain Properties 2010 - 2018 VIP

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    JokeBank.com :happy:
     
  19. dande

    dande Established Member

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    JokeBank.ca :xf.grin:
     
  20. MapleDots

    MapleDots Domain Properties 2010 - 2018 VIP

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    HaHa

    You have to admit it makes sense though

    Entertainment industry

    What can you bank..... Jokes

    What else?

    We might just be able to guess this one :watching:

    --------------------------------------------------

    On topic, if it's for the entertainment industry you can use the word without issues, assuming it does not encroach in another trademark.

    Anything even remotely related to the financial industry you leave yourself open to the possibility of a conflict.
     
  21. jideofor

    jideofor Active Member VIP

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    I am not a lawyer but let me ask you a question... have you googled and found lots of websites on keyword+bank.com, including non financial companies which are based in the US? If they were not worried to set up their businesses with such "bank" in them, why are you?
     
  22. urlurl

    urlurl Active Member VIP

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    check with a lawyer for sure, but i think the nature of the business will determine the allowed use of the name.

    Sperm Bank

    Click Bank

    River Bank

    data bank

    etc

    if you are providing any financial services or related products to banking i would assume in some jurisdictions it may not be allowed. do your research before you decide.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
  23. dande

    dande Established Member

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    The business is not related to financial services, although money must exchange hands between customers and we just like in every other businesses.

    To be honest I didn't make any research as regards the use of the name. Like I said earlier, there were some other options I was considering before settling for this.

    Yes. ClickBank is a very good example. I was hoping to not worry until I stumbled on the Washington case.
     
  24. dande

    dande Established Member

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    Trust me you won't 🤣🤣

    But not to worry, I'll share the name soon enough
     
  25. MR Harrist

    MR Harrist Established Member

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    I hope its not BigBankdotCom :xf.grin:
    personally as long your content is not related with some Big brand, I am sure no one will sue you! but if use that domain to make profit because for some reason it have correlation, and that big brand think, you make them loss, probably they will give a warn not to use it! i.e you loss 50k!, personally I will back of! unless that domain worth $50:xf.grin:

    its just my 2 cents! don't take it personally! :xf.grin:
    better to ask experts! but we all know there's no such a thing!:xf.laugh:
     

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