Buying a Domain Name? Do a Clearance Search

Every once in a while, I get offers to buy domain names in my field – or, things like that.  I have yet to buy one, but I am sure they aren’t cheap – several thousand dollars, perhaps.

The value of a domain name is related to the strength of its searchable quality, recognition, and application to your particular business.  I am sure that there are businesses that get offered domain names all the time for quite a bit of money and that some of those offers are met with purchases.  Before purchasing a domain name, it may be a good idea to do a clearance search.

Generic or descriptive names like or may not present many trademark risks.  More distinctive names can be problematic, though.  Trademark clearance searches are frequently performed before a company registers a trademark or before it selects a name or brand for its business.  But they can be much more helpful and valuable before a domain name is purchased – indeed, they should be a part of the due diligence performed in anticipation of a domain name buyout.  A business must ensure that there aren’t any encroachments or prior uses of the main element of the domain name that might limit the ability to use the domain.  The last thing a business needs to do is spend several thousand dollars on a domain and then find out that someone else owns the trademark rights in it.

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