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Protecting Your URL and Your Name

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Is your company name trademarked? If not, there’s no better time to …

Is your company name trademarked? If not, there’s no better time to
get that ™ in play. Until then, your competitors -- or any company that
wants to leverage your name for their own benefit -- can legally (if
sleazily) use your name and URL to attract visits to their own website.
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  • 1. Business Advisor:Protecting Your URL and Your NameHow to keep bad actors from using and abusing your name and brand on the web. A three-stepprimer on domain names, trademarks and having the recourse you may one day need.by Petalyn Swart AlbertIs your company name trademarked? If not, there’s no better time toget that ™ in play. Until then, your competitors -- or any company thatwants to leverage your name for their own benefit -- can legally (ifsleazily) use your name and URL to attract visits to their own website.The fact is: It’s legal to use anyone’s company name and URL if theyhavent been trademarked. For background, think of your companyname and/or URL this way: If they aren’t “owned,” then they are justwords.Several remodelers discussed various types of this abuse in a recentthread right here on d5R (see the discussion here). As an SEO consultant, as well as heading upmarketing operations for the a remodeling company owned by my husband, I’ve researched theissue extensively and have some simple advice for protecting yourself and your brand -- on aswell as off the Internet.Step 1: Get ReadyYou can place a ™ next to your name, logo and/or slogan at any time. It is not essential toregister your trademark through the U.S. Patent & Trade Office, although owning a federaltrademark registration does provide important benefits (as well as allowing you to use the ® forregistered). That said, even without a registration, you can establish rights in a trademark basedon your use of the mark in commerce.I also suggest also purchasing domain names that are very similar to your URL, might be typosor abbreviations for your URL, or are synonymous for your work and location. Have those URLsredirected to your site. Do you ever think, "I wish I had shortened my URL to ..."? If so, and ifthat URL is available, nab it.
  • 2. For instance, the URL for my husbands remodeling company is www.seaconstruction.com.Since his company had been around for some time when I began working on its online effort, Ifocused mostly on purchasing "geolocal" URLs like sanmateoremodeler.com andseaRemodeling.com. (I might have gotten SanMateoContractor.com too -- but someone is sellingit for $12,000!)Also consider purchasing your personal name as a domain. For example, I bought Petalyn.com.Not only does this give me “ownership” of the name, but it also gives me the advantage whenrepresenting myself (not just my company). As unusual as my name is, in fact, somebody elsebeat me to creating a Facebook page called Petalyn.As for .biz, .net and other versions of your domain name, its your choice as to how watchful youwant to be and how many domain names you want to own. That said, I do suggest gettingthe .info and mobile versions, before somebody else does.Through these steps, you have copyrights to your company name and URL -- and you haverecourse against abuse. Bravo! The major search engines don’t want copyright issues to gounattended under their watch, and now you may call on them if needed.Step 2: Take AimIf another company is using your trademarked name in an ad, Google will likely notify youalmost immediately, especially if you have set up Google alerts (it’s a good idea to set these upfor your company name anyway).In the event of a trademark violation, Google will suggest that you first try to resolve the conflictby contacting the advertiser directly. When you have this discussion, document it. If the othercompany does not comply with your requests, the next step is to enlist Google’s help inremoving the ad. See Step 3 for more on this.Before you jump ahead, though, assume the best. I suggest that you avoid sending the full weightof Google bearing down on the other company until you have allowed for the odds that a creativeand agreeable solution might surface.An example might look like the following: Coca-Cola and Pepsi are each trademarked.  If onebeverage goliath uses the other’s name in any marketing materials, you can bet that one of twothings has happened: Either one company is committing a major copyright violation, or the twohave negotiated for mutual advantages.Step 3: Fire (If Necessary)If you have contacted the other company to no avail, you can then release the Kraken.Each of the major search engines has a complaint process that is fairly easy to initiate. Getting aresponse may take up to several weeks, but if you have trademarked your name, the searchengines will not only remove abusive ads but may also impose substantial fees on the offending
  • 3. party, or may even revoke their account.Be aware that the ramifications of unethical practices -intended or otherwise - can hit a businesshard. Exercise your power with care.Below are the links to the forms you’ll need to complete for Google, Yahoo and Bing, dependingon which server you found your name on. • Google AdWords Trademark Complaint Form • Yahoo! Search Results Abuse Form • Bing/Microsoft adCenter Trademark ConcernTake care of your property -- and good luck.Petalyn Swart Albert works with remodelers and designers on SEO strategy. Follow her at herblog: You Can SEO Too. She also works with her husband at SEA Construction, in SanMateo, Calif. Connect with her on LinkedIn. Email her at: petalyn@youcanseotoo.com.This and all content is compiled in good faith by daily5Remodel. However, no representationis made as to the completeness or accuracy of the information it contains.published on daily5Remodel on June 8, 2011.

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