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I registered a domain example.com many years ago and had intentions of developing it into a social networking site, but then I got busy with other projects.

I recently realized that example.net is a very well established site & organization (a sort of consortium of many businesses/groups). As a matter of fact, they even trademarked the keyword example, which makes developing example.com risky and pointless.

I have not received any offers/communication from the owner of example.net. Should I contact the owner of example.net with an offer for them to purchase it, or would that result in accusations of cyber-squatting?

Please note:

  1. I registered the domain example.com a year before example.net
  2. I live in a different country than the company that owns example.net, hence I am unsure if the trademark law applies to me.
  • Based on experience, I don't think you should make an offer for the domain to the other party directly. I once was made an offer by a domain broker for a domain I used for years as a business. After thinking about it for a while, and since I had more than one domain for the business, I decided to look into it. Having deleted the domain broker's email, I emailed the likely interested party. The response I received back however was a UDRP because the other party decided it would be cheaper to go that route since they had a pending similar trademark in my country, and trademark elsewhere. – dan Jan 26 '15 at 0:57
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    I won the UDRP easily, but it cost me time and expense. The only satisfaction was not giving in to their windbag attorney who files these disputes daily in hopes domain registrants won't fight back. Therefore, I'd suggest listing the domain on auction sites, with a notice on your site, and let them seek you out. It sounds like you wouldn't have to worry about them claiming bad faith in that case, and wouldn't be successful if they filed a UDRP. – dan Jan 26 '15 at 1:06
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    I had a similar case, I was approached by their lawyer they offered some money and I let them have it. My suggestion would be to host something with the domain but not in the same category. there's a chance you'll get loads of visitors who think example.net is actually example.com then you may be able to approach them or they may even approach you since their visitors are coming to your website. – Abu Nooh Jan 26 '15 at 3:17
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As per my comments, it would be unwise to solicit the sale of example.com directly to the owner of example.net, as that might be interpreted or argued as a sign of bad faith, and/or that you don't have any legitimate interests in example.com, which are two of the three elements necessary for successfully wining a Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) case.

It's unpredictable as to how the owner of example.net might respond to such an offer. They might feel they have the rights to the domain since they hold a trademark for the keyword in their own country. Or they might just make a business decision based on economics if they'd like the .com version of their domain...

Consequently, if the offer for the domain is more than the cost of filing a UDRP case plus legal expenses, they may opt to do that, with the hopes that you might also bow to their pressure.

Without the direct solicitation however, it doesn't sound like you are using or registered the domain in bad faith, and that you had legitimate interest in it (which would be supported further if you could show evidence of a site or plans for one).

In terms of the trademark filed in their own country, I'd suggest doing a trademark search to confirm that is the case, or consult with an attorney who specializes in trademark law. In any case, it seems unlikely that all three elements could successfully be demonstrated, if you avoid the direct solicitation which could put the element of bad faith in jeopardy.

Of course we are not attorneys here, so I'd suggest contacting one if you feel the domain has significant value and would like to sell it, but are concerned about the trademark issues, or contract & terms for the sale should it proceed to that point without the assistance of a domain broker.

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    Thanks, very informative. I didn't even know about UDRP. – Samosa Jan 26 '15 at 2:39
  • No problem, that's where the experience of other webmasters on a site like this can help...on what not to do, as well as what to do. UDRPs are the primary means for obtaining a domain from another registrant, which most webmasters should be aware of, especially when it comes to selling domains, or even registering them for themselves and clients. – dan Jan 26 '15 at 2:46

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