A search on google for "iphone developer" turns up loads of websites which have "iphone" in them, a trademarked name by Apple.

So I'm led to believe that having a domain such as iphonedeveloper.com is ok? Well, you're still using Apple's trademark, but it would be hard to brand yourself otherwise. You're an IPHONE DEVELOPER... right?

Well, what if I want to provide a website where users pay to get a list of the best offers from Ebay? I might have a domain like ebaydeals.com (I don't... i'm just speculating!).

Now I've heard that places like Ebay are really hot on the trigger and fire out emails to people who register domains like that straight away. But whats the difference?

In both cases I'm making money from the trademark, effectively, so is it just down to how lenient the company who owns the trademark is? Or are there rules? Is there a specific "line" you don't cross?



2 Answers 2


There definitely is a hard line that you cannot cross. You'll have to talk to a trademark attorney if you want exact details. But if you're using a trademark in your domain and the site is related to the trademark you can bet it is ripe for a lawsuit if the trademark holder decides they want to sue. Of course, they may just request you hand the domain name over but that doesn't do you a whole lot of good, either.

Remember, just because there are sites out there getting away with violating a trademark doesn't mean they're right or the company is allowing it. The company just may not be aware of it or choose not to litigate for various reasons (expense, low priority). But that can change at any time.




I was browsing an article on Blogger Law and I came across this direct issue. Here is an example case they cited:

A leading case in the area of trademark disputes is Continental Airlines, Inc. v. continentalairlines.com. In that case, the dotcom was simply re-routing visitors to a travel site where they could purchase Continental Airline tickets plus pay an extra $15 fee to use the service. The court awarded the domain to the Airline on the basis of trademark infringement.

I highly suggest reading #5 in this page as it is an excellent answer for this question.

Original Answer

I would say no. You will not get permission from Google and the likely hood of confusion is high.

Here is an example:

In 1988, Quality Inns was planning to open a new chain of economy hotels 
under the name "McSleep." After McDonald's demanded that Quality Inns not 
use the name because it infringed, the hotel company filed a suit in federal 
court seeking a declaratory judgment that "McSleep" did not infringe. 
McDonald's counterclaimed, alleging trademark infringement and unfair 
competition. Eventually, McDonald's prevailed. The court's opinion noted that
the prefix "Mc" added to a generic word has acquired secondary meaning, 
so that in the eyes of the public it means McDonalds, and therefore the name
"McSleep" would infringe on McDonald's trademarks.


You can assume the same for YouTube as people would think it is a branch of YouTube or sponsored by YouTube.

It is not always about money it can really come down to will a user confuse your domain with the youtube domain and the answer is most likely yes.

A good book to read on Trademark/Copyright Law is Intellectual Property: Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights by Richard Stim. Published by West Legal Studies. That book gives you a good base and is used in Law Schools and you can understand it.

The overall best bet would be to name it something generic vs a trademark.

  • +1 especially for the "I'm not a lawyer" ;-) Thank you. The McSleep case makes it very clear. Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 20:13
  • Glad it helped. In trademark/copyright cases it ultimately comes down to what the Judge/Jury thinks and that can be a very fine line. I would always err on the safe side though. =>
    – L84
    Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 20:28
  • Except that in the McCurry case, McDonalds failed after a retrail (the won originally) and they were allowed to keep the McCurry name. I guess it depends who's on the case :)
    – Itai
    Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 20:43
  • That makes my point exactly, it comes down to the Judges. =>
    – L84
    Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 20:48
  • 5
    There goes my idea of McStackOverflow.com ;-) Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 23:13

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