Avoid these words to avoid legal headaches.
Two years ago, the domain name frisbees.com went on auction at GoDaddy.
It seemed like a great domain. We all remember throwing around a Frisbee as kids and maybe even as adults.
But there’s a big problem: Frisbee is not a generic name for those flying discs. It’s a trademark.
Domain investor/developer Peter Askew pointed this out during the auction:
Dear current & future domain name developers,
This domain popped up within GoDaddy Auctions.
No doubt, neat name. Almost seems generic. But it’s a trap.
It’s a strongly protected Wham-o trademark. Even mentioned on wiki page.
Strongly suggest avoiding this one. pic.twitter.com/Tsvho9f1J0
— Peter Askew (@searchbound) July 5, 2020
There are a lot of words we use that seem generic but are actually trademarked.
In addition to Frisbee, here are six words that might seem generic but aren’t. Be careful about buying domains with these words.
Realtor – This is the most common word I see trip up domain investors. In fact, I even fell for this one many years ago. I thought Realtor was the generic name for the person who helps you buy and sell real estate. But in the U.S., it’s a trademark of the National Association of Realtors. It’s not too vigilant about going after it, but it has filed lawsuits to protect its brand. It also won UDRPs against AustinRealtors.com, MillionDollarRealtors.com, and other domains including the trademark.
Rollerblade – I grew up Rollerblading and playing roller hockey. We called all of the skates Rollerblades, and most of them back then were indeed the Rollerblade brand. But they’re actually inline skates and Rollerblade is a brand.
Jacuzzi – My family bought a hot tub this year but didn’t buy a Jacuzzi. The generic term is hot tub or spa; Jacuzzi is just one of the brands for spas.
Ping-Pong – It’s technically table tennis. Escalade Sports currently owns the trademark.
Taser – I’ve seen this in a handful of domains that people list for sale. Many people use this generically (he tasered him), but you should know it’s a trademark of Axon.
Band-Aid – You might want to put a Band-Aid on it, but it’s really an adhesive bandage. Although I see some plays on it, this doesn’t come up much in domain names. Johnson & Johnson holds the trademark.
Add in a number of other trademarks are frequently used as generic terms (and at risk for genericide):
(many more listed at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_generic_and_genericized_trademarks#List_of_protected_trademarks_frequently_used_as_generic_terms)
Realtor … Is one to avoid also. NAR is actively pursuing infringements
LoL its your top one. My bad Andrew
Most people believe the word “entrepreneur” is generic. But “trademark bully” Entrepreneur Media, Inc. (aka Entrepreneur magazine), claims to own exclusive rights to entrepreneur for all goods and services.
For example, last month EMI even filed a case at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office against use of the phrase THE POLEPRENEUR for “Educational services, namely, providing courses, seminars and workshops in the fields of pole fitness instruction and pole fitness studio ownership”! (see Opposition no. 91275889)
But EMI and their attorneys at Latham & Watkins LLP must know that their alleged trademark is void and unenforceable. They don’t deny it’s based on a (fraudulent) declaration by their founder John Burke, a convicted bank robber and career criminal who used the alias and non-legal name of “Chase Revel” to deceive the USPTO and others about his extensive criminal history (it’s just one of numerous aliases he used).
I fell for a few realtor domains in my early days. On a side note a guy a few years back challenged them on the generic public use perception of the trademark, the public response was small but realtors replied en masse that it was seen as exclusive to the realtors association, could have become a common term but the fellow didn’t have the marketing power to properly get a good public response.
Jacuzzi is not registered as a trademark, Spas is a trademark.
Andrew Allemann says
marcaría.com/trademark that has direct access to the search site US Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)
Jacuzzi does not appear as a trademark and SPAS does appear as a trademark.
Andrew Allemann says
Search the uspto website. You’ll see lots of Jacuzzi trademarks. There are also trademarks for “Spas”, but they aren’t related to hot tubs.
Shirley Gilmore says
Johnson & Johnson refused to give me permission to use Band-Aid in my novel, even capitalized and listed in the acknowlgments.
Andrew, you are right Jacuzzi is a trademark,
I have ejacuzzi.com
Mike Collins says
Strangely enough Pilates is NOT a TM…