Labeled as question in Legal Discussion started by FavourB, May 8, 2019.
Will I be sued if I buy a celebrity domain name?
One way to find out..
Usually depends how you use it.
A not for profit fan site usually gets away with it. Depends on the celebrity and their marketing and legal team. I assume it's in one of the minor extensions or a Ntld, So your purchase., at least, will probably go totally unnoticed by everyone
Anything you do to monetize the domain will give the celeb reason to sue you and likely cause you to lose, so what's the point?
Most likely, Don't waste your time!
Usually if I find myself asking myself " that type of question " prior to acquiring a domain I don't buy the domain.
If it's your name no.
Related to this discussion: What if someone owns the name of an artist's made up name(alias)?
It’s like asking if I’ll get arrested if I’m speeding in traffic? It might happen, it might not.
Personally, I mostly avoid this kind of registrations, if the intention is obvious, but I’ve bought a few surnames...
It's ok if she/he is not famous and dead.
The number one question here, Why are you buying it, for what purpose? Then a legitimate answer can be offered.
what if the celb name is known is a common first name only?
Awhile back I bumped into this Cheech and Chong UDRP decision, and recall it now for this particular thread, as was suggested about having a "Fan Site".
Imagine creating a fan store, creating your "own" artwork, work on SEO, articles, pay per click, etc. or promoting someones brand for free or minimal compensation, etc. then the true TM owner sees your sales success and decides differently for whatever reason, you have just wasted all your time and effort. Unless of course, you have the skills to negotiate or hire a lawyer for a contractual arrangement for say a 10 year duration and some exclusive consent of being the "official store". This is the mistake at least I see here is the Respondent made is not having a contract, in early internet days.
In today's world, you don't have much of a chance to monetize it imo unless the person agrees under a contract. The lawyers on this forum will probably say avoid it.
"The Respondent's website currently displays the following disclaimer in small print at the bottom of the website's home page: “Cheech and Chong Dot Com is a Cheech and Chong fan site. It is not operated by Cheech and Chong.” This disclaimer appears to be of recent origin, based on the historical records of the Respondent's website viewable on the Internet Archive, www.archive.org."
"Starting in 2006, the Respondent maintains that the Complainant Chong provided merchandise to the Respondent to be sold on the website."
"The Respondent argues that it has established rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name under paragraph 4(c)(iii) of the Policy based on the use of the disputed domain name with a “fan site”. The Panel disagrees. The language of paragraph 4(c)(iii) of the Policy unambiguously requires a respondent to be “making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers.”
A few celebrities who successfully have claimed their names and trademarks:
Britney Spears: http://www.udrpsearch.com/wipo/d2017-2036
Michael Douglas: http://www.udrpsearch.com/naf/132438
There are many many more to find...
I never quite understand, on a site called namePROS, the fixation on non-commercial use of domain names.
Yeah, sure, non-commercial commentary, criticism or even praise, can provide a defense in appropriate circumstances.
But, so what? You know what else non-commercial commentary, criticism or praise does? Fails to make money.
You want to spend your time, money and effort on not making money? That's great. But there are simpler ways to do that. You can lay on the couch and watch TV all day, if you want to. It will make the same amount of money as a non-commercial website, and won't cost you registration and hosting fees.
Now, if you just want to pretend you are doing that, you can give that a try too. Like kids who think they can hide by covering their face with their hands, domainers who engage in elaborate pretenses which they incorrectly think anyone is going to find credible, aren't doing themselves or anyone else any favors.
the heir might came along with a lawyer LOL
Not sure what the "LOL" is about....
Prince's estate files lawsuit over cybersquatting of prince.com
The estate of the late recording artist and actor Prince is suing an Englewood, New Jersey-based domain broker for cybersquatting the prince.com website.
Filed last Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, the suit alleges that Domain Capital is infringing on the estate’s “PRINCE” trademark by owning the domain.
If the estate of the dead celebrity maintains rights in the name then, yes, they can enforce those rights. Whether the celebrity is dead doesn't matter.
A trademark is whatever mark (name, slogan, logo, etc) an individual or company uses in commerce (even if it isn't "officially" registered). So "Madonna" would actually be more legitimate a trademark than whatever her real name is (although she likely could easily argue and justify she uses her real name in business as well as she likely doesn't open bank accounts and sign business deals as just "Madonna".
That said .. Madonna and Prince are generic enough to safely use in any other trademark class that they do not operate in. So if you wanted to open a construction company called Prince or Madonna, then you wouldn't have any problems.
Trademark infringement is based on how you USE and PROFIT FROM the term (or in our case the domain).
Essentially if you use the domain in a way that *COULD* mislead someone into thinking you are or are associated with the legitimate trademark holder, then you are in violation of infringing said trademark the moment you make $0.01 (I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think there is any fine print that can save you).
Also .. I'd like @jberryhill to confirm, but I'm quite sure that even if you don't make money, if the trademark holder can convince a judge that you are costing them revenue in almost any way then you would be found to be infringing on the trademark as well if if you never made a cent.
At the end of the day, if you buy a domain because you think it has value based on someone else or an existing company then you are infringing on their trademark unless you genuinely want to create a hobby fan site or a review site ... but even then it's a very very thin line between that and trademark infringement.
A very short time into domaining I came to the personal belief that, in general, single names are generic enough to justify holding (as long as you obviously aren't associating it in any way with any one person or company) .. however .. I feel holding most full names (first plus last name combinations) are almost always just wrong ... and I'm not even talking legally, but morally .. it is very hard to argue that it isn't cyber squatting unless it's a dead person.
(Just to be clear .. it's also morally wrong to kill someone just to be in the clear for holding their domain name)
Thanks for the detailed reply. Appreciate it.
Then the answer is yes someone will come after you, that is absolutely a bad faith registration or secondary usage if purchased from someone that did not register in bad faith. So I would avoid that, they don't have to go the UDRP route they could take to court under ACPA and look for $100,000 plus the name.
You mean handreg or buy from someone?
Why you need it? Develop? Sell to the cebebrity?
I bought name+surname on closeout, contacted them and sold
wow you are lucky
was it a local celebrity?
Maybe with local celebrities it won't be a great issue like international
Some might want to buy
Separate names with a comma.