Sunday, September 30, 2007

RUT-Roh! faresniper.com -- Fare Sniper



You might be wondering what food has to do with a domain name that suggests a travel site.

Well, uh, not much, though I suppose one could make an argument for using the term "Fare Sniper" for offering bargains at the grocery store or snagging cheap pub food at favorite British pubs and/or their American counterparts. Yeah, it's a stretch, but...

Hey! If Kayak.com can build a travel site around a boat, why not build a foodie site around a travel term?

I bought faresniper.com before I realized that some guy has a travel site called Faresnipe or faresnipe.com. I wonder if the former owner of my domain realized that, and that's why he allowed faresniper.com to expire?

The name "Faresnipe" is not registered over at the USPTO, but it doesn't matter; the owner of this travel site was there first, and is doing business with the domain, so my domain, used in the wrong way, could be viewed as a "typo-squat." In the U.S., if someone is doing business under a name, he/she does not have to register it at the USPTO; the name is considered to be a "natural" trademark.

It never even occurred to me that an owner of a variant domain would be doing business in the same kind of business suggested by my domain, that is, until after the fact.

This has got to be a classic newbie mistake, and it's all mine and recent, suggesting, perhaps, that I ought to stop hanging around at domain fire sales: if a name looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Learn from my mistake. Amongst the rubble of the failed, the odd and the head scratchers, the long and confusing, obvious TM typos, smut, and schmuck domains, you can pick up good brandable names and even niche generics at domain fire sales.

But, please do your homework first. If a fire sale domain seems to outshine its counterparts, curb your enthusiasm, and do three things before hitting the "buy" button:

  1. Check the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) to make sure that a business isn't doing the same kind of business suggested by your gotta-have domain. Even if your name seems to be in the clear, follow the next two steps:
  2. Google your term, with double quotations around it; if someone has claimed a natural trademark, the business should show up in the first few pages of your Google search. If not...
  3. Google possible variations of your term; in my case, lopping off the "r" would have revealed the stark truth about my domain name.

On the other hand, my domain does consist of two generic terms, although they are not usually associated with each other, like "car dealer." That term is bonafide generic, so no one would be able to trademark it to sell cars, although an entrepreneur could theoretically trademark the term to sell, say, diamond rings.

Hmmmmmm...

Would you like a beer with that burger and fries?

Ms. Domainer

10/1/2007: For the German translation of this post, go to Tourism.

Frau Domainer

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