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iPadAccessories.com Sells for $9,000 But Was It Worth It?

FlipWebsites.com is all about buying and selling websites so normally I wouldn’t write about a domain-only purchase. However, the purchase of iPadAccessories.com recently on Flippa.com can provide a lesson for website buyers. The lesson being that you should be very careful about buying websites (or building and selling websites for that matter) that have a trademark in the domain.

The domain auction on Flippa.com for iPadAccessories.com ended on February 3, 2010 with 42 bids and a sale price of $9,000. You can view the auction listing here. I’ll give the seller props for being forward-thinking and for being a very shrewd speculative domain investor. He likely snagged the domain for less than $10 and made over $8,500 on the deal after his listing fees. However, I’m not so sure the buyer did so well in the deal.

TechCrunch.com reported on January 7, 2010 that Apple had filed a complaint with the ICANN UDRP (Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy) back in November 2009 against Daniel Bijan, who owned 16 domains with Apple trademarks in them. One of the domains Bijan owned was iPodAccessories.com. On January 6, 2010, Apple won the rights to all of his domains.

Do you see where I’m going with this? What are the chances that Apple will file a complaint against the “lucky” buyer who purchased iPadAcessories.com? I don’t know about you, but I’d be sick to my stomach if I lost $9,000 over a simple domain name. I hope the buyer doesn’t get nailed but I’m not holding my breath.

How does this apply to website buyers? As I wrote about in my due diligence 101 article, you need to tread very carefully when buying websites with trademarks in the domain. Unless you have explicit written consent from the trademark owner that you can use the trademark, I would avoid any website with a trademark in the domain.

At the very least, you should do some digging around the Internet to see if the owner has a track record of pursuing people who use their trademarks in domains as Apple clearly does. I would also be looking to see if there are a lot of other websites ranked in the top ten on Google, Bing, or Yahoo! with trademarks in them. If there were, I would check to see if they were owned by the trademark owner or not.

Personally, after my experience buying a website with a trademark in the domain I would never do it again with or without written permission. Owners of trademarks can change so even if you have permission today, there are no guarantees for tomorrow. Imagine spending a couple years building up an authority site on a domain with a trademark in it only to find out down the road that you can no longer do that. You could potentially lose everything overnight!

The best thing to do with trademark domains is to stay away from them no matter how tempting they are. I hope the buyer of iPadAccessories.com never hears from Apple but I won’t be surprised if he or she does. I just scratch my head and wonder why anyone would take a $9,000 gamble on such a risk in the first place.

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About Travis Van Slooten

Travis is an affiliate marketer and website flipper who ran FlipWebsites.com until the Fall of 2010.

This entry was posted in Buying Websites and tagged , , .

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  • babyfacemagee

    The rules regarding domain names that have trademarks isn’t really as cut and dried as you’d think. For instance, many companies including a trademark name allow people to own domain names with trademarks in the title if it is an informational, support or blog site. Also, I’ve heard from several individuals that as long as you aren’t selling authorized products from the company, aren’t pretending to be the company or representing yourself as affiliated with the company in any way, then you’re usually ok. For instance let’s say I wanted to have a forum on the playstation called ‘playstationgamers.com’. Sony generally wouldn’t care that i’m using the trademark playstation in the domain because i’m out there pretending to be Sony or selling sony products. In addition, some companies give permission on a case by case basis for domain holders to sell 3rd party accessories or even authorized products if the right licenses/permission are obtained. For instance http://www.themacstore.com contains ‘mac’ which is an apple trademark. They apparently have permission from Apple however to sell Apple items and are not pretending to be Apple so they have been given permission and seem to be ok.

    So while buying a trademark name can include higher risk….if you do the necessary work making sure your particular use is allowed…or that permission is gotten from the company….it’s not always a pointless or worthless venture.

    • Travis

      BabyFaceMagee:

      Nice moniker, by the way:) I agree with you 100% There are cases where trademarks can be used when permission is given by the trademark owner. As I stated, UNLESS you have permission to use a trademark or know with absolute certainty that it is o.k. to use a trademark, avoid them. Thanks for your comments. They were very well thought out and provide some great additional information.

      Take care,

      Travis

  • http://usbitnet.com tony

    Following your comments on ipad trade names, i was ounce a affiliate of a website named adsensepackages.com who was not owned by google adsense, but now that i have read your articles, this makes a lot of sense why this site is not now in service. this website had tons of links on it, most of got too popular.

    • Travis

      Tony:

      It’s hard to say what happened to your site. Google does own the trademark AdSense but based on a quick 10 minute search on the topic, they don’t seem to enforce the rights to it that stringently. Still though, I would never own a domain with Google or AdSense in it. I’d hate to build a business and then have it fall apart because Google came knocking on my door wanting to take my domain!

      Travis

  • Travis

    Missy:

    Actually, it appears IPAD is a trademark for Apple and another company in Europe. Check it out here:
    http://www.tuaw.com/2010/02/05/company-that-owns-ipad-trademark-in-eu-wants-apples-business/

    I don’t have any iPad or any Apple-related domains (iphone, itouch, ipod, etc.) and I personally would never buy one. There’s just too much legal baggage. It’s just not worth the risk.

    As for the gazillion iPhone websites out there, I’m sure Apple’s lawyers have better things to do than track down EVERY iPhone domain. The point is, why as a webmaster would you risk it? Sooner or later they’re going to come after you – especially if your site becomes popular.

    Travis
    Site Admin

  • http://www.g34media.com Missy

    Well I must be off my rocker, because I didn’t think IPAd was a trademark, but only APPLE.

    I have an iPad domain and IMHO, a good one. But as I mentioned above didn’t think it was under trademark.

    Do you have any iPad domain names? Would you seriously not buy one.

    Also, what about all the gazillion iPhone websites out there?