Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Are "iCar + Generic" and "Generic + iCar" Domains Okay?


Pictured at left is VW's City Expert, to be announced later this month at the Frankfurt Motor Show, a lower-priced ovoid model, designed for the narrow, urban streets of Europe.
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Will a variation of this design be incorporated into the rumored iCar?
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The City Expert looks like the kind of design that would work well with a young tech-savvy crowd, but I doubt if the iCar would be a lower end iAuto. I would suspect that this car, if produced, could support just about every Apple product, albeit in more compact versions.
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Could registering a trademark-associated domain spell trouble for domainers?
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A few days ago, I questioned how rumors of the Apple/VW iCar collaboration could impact domainers, at least in terms of trademark implications, using iCarGames.com as an example (the registrant's disclaimer seemed to set off some warning bells).
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Fortunately, for this particular registrant (and others), there are six live ICAR trademarks registered at the USPTO (one pending) and 16 "dead" trademarks. The pending application, filed August 7, 2007, involves EDAG Engineering & Design AG CORPORATION FED REP GERMANY Reesbergstrasse 1 Fulda FED REP GERMANY 36039, a German company specializing in on-board auto accessories.
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My question: when a company applies for a service mark, does "pending" mean that if the mark is eventually approved that the live date extends back to the filing date? Or is the date of actual approval recorded as the start date?
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In any case, it seems that the EDAG company will somehow be involved in the VW/Apple iCar.
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Last July (7/1), The Domain Tools Blog addressed the trademark issue as it pertained to iPhone-associated domains. Author Jay Westerdal noted that domainers who registered their domains before Apple's January 9, 2007, iPhone announcement would probably be okay; however, those registering afterward could be at the mercy of Apple, Corp., who may or may not go after those domainers.
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This suggests that domainers need to be proactive (as opposed to reactive) when registering domains and not wait until after official product announcements. The iCar rumor is just that: a rumor, so, at this point in time, registering generics with the term "iCar" will likely incur just a slight and inexpensive risk.
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To that end, I have registered a few top "iCar + generic word" and "generic word + iCar" domains--although I had planned to refrain from doing so. However, no one would mistake my domains as being connected with the company that sells capacitors, though they may cause confusion with the company applying for the pending trademark.
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So, for me, this will be it. No more iCar-associated domains. Mr. Westerdal is probably correct that the domaining moguls of the future will own top-notch generic domains, not fly-by-night domain names that may incur risk and go out of style relatively fast.
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And the young man who, on July 6, 2007, registered this name may soon find himself in a bit of hot water.
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Ms Domainer

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