Friday, September 18, 2009

Battle of the Domain Names: May the Best City Win!

Dear Rich: I have a question about a domain name I recently purchased -- let's say it's "(cityname)" I intend to use it to provide information about the dining, shopping, service providers and events (before the fact) in the given city. There is another website, "(cityname)," which is a local photography journal, documenting events and happenings within the city. This site provides photo-documentation of events, landmarks and happenings around town (after the fact, per say). Would my domain name infringe the other domain name in any way? The short answer is that you're probably okay ... but more information is needed. The questions that need to be answered are: (1) Are consumers likely to be confused by the two (we don't think so), and (2) What is the relative strength or distinctiveness of each? We wish we could be more decisive but the trouble with trademark law is that sometimes, the Dear Rich Staff has no friggin' clue how the courts (or UPSTO) will rule. 
Concerns Beyond Your Competitor
Besides the other website, you should check the USPTO records to determine if anyone has registered or sought registration for "(cityname) living." For example, Twin Cities Living is a registered mark (Reg. No. 3343705) for magazines featuring community information. Similarly, you would want to be on the lookout for reverse word use -- for example, Citylivingdetroit, if you were in Detroit.