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Today we came across with a person whose last name is our domain name. It is not a meaningful word and as last name it is quite seldom.

Nevertheless, we have some concerns about this issue and couldn't find an answer indicating that whether this is a possible problem or not.

2 Answers 2

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Depends what you do with it.

If it's an innocent use that has nothing to do with the family in question, you are probably fine. I'm sure there are people with the given name Trivago out there. They don't get any rights to the Trivago trademark. If someone "took it personally" and tried to sue you, they'd get spanked out of court, possibly with sanctions (penalties) particularly if they're in a SLAPP state.

The reverse is less certain. If your domain is a trade name in famous use, you could lose it unless you could show how you plan to use it in a way which is not related and not likely to cause consumer confusion. The best defense is already doing so. Katy Perry, DDO couldn't be sued for her domain name but would certainly get a nice offer.

On the other hand, if you registered a domain name because it is someone else's name... Different story. A famous person would argue consumer confusion, and would certainly win if your content was related to them (e.g. fan page), and throwing up falsework of an unrelated business (Ellie Goulding SEO Services LLC) would probably not convince anyone. Those wouldn't work on a non-famous person, they would have to convince a court that you were so likely to misuse it in the future, that it's fair to usurp your free-speech rights today. That would depend on showing an outrageous pattern of your past misconduct. By "misuse" I mean things you would be successfully sued for, e.g. libel.

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  • Upvoted. Can I ask your personal opinion with the details I provide? domain is grenders.com. We didn't know it was a possible last name. In this case what insight can you give?
    – ozgur
    Apr 8, 2016 at 9:15
  • I am not a lawyer. Looks ok to me, you have a reason to call it that which doesn't have anything to do with anyone named that, and I don't see an angle by which anyone with that name would have a cause of action. If it worries you, you might consider hosting in the US and having a TOS that calls for a US jurisdiction and venue of your preference, San Francisco is awesome because the courts know domain law really well, and it's a very expensive place to sue, the filing fee alone is $300, which keeps the riff raff out lol. Apr 9, 2016 at 2:40
  • Doesn't matter if you are not a lawyer, you speak convincing=) Thank you for the opinion and good points.
    – ozgur
    Apr 9, 2016 at 8:34
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There is no current legal claim that can easily be made for a name as property with the exception of proven lineage.

For example, Lord McDonald who's family has operated a restaurant for 700 years, threatened to sue McDonalds (the fast food chain) if it did not cease and desist it's persuit of a small restaurant owner in England. In this case, lineage and ownership can be traced. Otherwise, these issues do not come up.

More to your point, domain names that are your own name are the right of anyone who registers the domain name.

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