–Dan Kelly, Attorney

This reminder is a bit late for new Christmas-season consumer products, but it bears repeating year round, as companies contemplate new products:  buy domain names associated with a new product before announcing the new product.  This seems like an obvious thing to do, but I regularly read stories where companies fail to perform this step of a new product launch, then have to go and spend thousands of dollars to secure related domain names that could have been purchased for perhaps $10 per year prior to launch.

The latest lesson comes from the otherwise savvy Apple Inc., who just won an uncontested UDRP arbitration on the domain name “ipodnano.com.”  As flagged by Domain Name Wire, Fusion Media Ltd. registered ipodnano.com two days before Apple announced the product.  In order to win a UDRP arbitration, the complainant must show that the respondent both registered and used the domain name in bad faith.  Having registered this particular domain name a mere two days before the product launch suggests that Fusion Media either (1) made a fortuitous guess, or (2) heard advanced news about the new product.  Even if Fusion Media’s guess on the “nano” part of the name was completely in good faith, the “ipod” part of the name was not.  Fusion Media did not respond to the UDRP arbitration complaint, so we may never know, but it is interesting to note that Apple apparently only asserted its trademark rights in IPOD in the arbitration.  (And, as I think of it, maybe Apple isn’t so savvy . . .)

To borrow a phrase from Steve Baird, other examples of this sort of thing can be found here, here, and here.