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Web Development Thread, Using a trademark in a domain name in Coding and Web Development; I've been toying with the idea of opening another forum (my first is finally making it's money back... slowly). I ...
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    mossj's Avatar
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    Using a trademark in a domain name

    I've been toying with the idea of opening another forum (my first is finally making it's money back... slowly).

    I want to make the forum about a university... However I'm concerned about
    • Trademarks.. am I allowed to use a trademark in a domain name?
      The university in question has "The" on the front of their registered trademark.

      whilst my domain does not, my domain also appends "forum" onto the end. I have also made it as clear as possible that it's not an official site.

      The universities domain name does not include "unversity" and my domain does.

    • Sensitive Naming.. the use of "university" in a product
      I class all my sites as products, as I currently trade under my own name. I know there are restrictions around a companies name including "university" but what about a product?
    Last edited by mossj; 14th March 2010 at 08:50 PM.

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    Legally, I think you'd probably be OK - as I understand it, what you have to avoid is "passing off" - trying to pretend that you in some way represent or are part of the organisation whose name you're using in part.

    Whether you'd get pressed not to use the name could be another matter. The best example is probably Rolls Royce - they actively pursue people who use terms like "We are the Rolls Royce of XXX" even though the company is obviously nothing to do with Rolls (eg you can't call yourself "the Rolls Royce of IT Support")

    I'd guess the best thing to do would be to talk to the communications department at the university concerned to see if they have any objection to their name being used in this way; if they're happy then go ahead. If they're not happy, then think of another name.

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    AngryTechnician's Avatar
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    If I'm reading this correctly, your domain is something like universityofsometownforum.co.uk. I suspect that The University of SometownŽ might have a valid claim for breach of trademark as although you haven't used the entire trademark, you have used a substantial part of it.

    If your site is more like sometownuniversityforum.co.uk you might be on safer ground, but personally, I would go for something like sometownstudentforum.co.uk to be far enough away from the trademark.

    Or, as srochford suggests, ask them. If you do, be sure to get your answer in non-verbal form.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    The issue I'd be thinking might exist here is like Srochford says, you using their trademark in order to aid your own business/product. ie. you'd be using their trademark to make money in some way.

    I'll give a cogent paradigm - "Apple Computers" own the "Apple" trademark within their industry. They have the rights to use it as they see fit, including running their own forums. You then set up a forum site 'Applesupportforums.com'. The site makes clear that you are unofficial, but from a trademark standpoint, you would be in the 'breach of trademark' zone.

    But remember, IANAL - and I don't think anyone on here is... As others suggets, contacting the university itself may be a good choice.

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    SteveBentley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AngryTechnician View Post
    If I'm reading this correctly, your domain is something like universityofsometownforum.co.uk. I suspect that The University of SometownŽ might have a valid claim for breach of trademark as although you haven't used the entire trademark, you have used a substantial part of it.
    You could then argue that any fool knows that the University of Sometown's site would be a .ac.uk and your .co.uk wouldn't be their site.

    Dunno how successful that would be though!

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