Should you register a domain name containing the word Amazon or Google?
With the high number of domain extensions available it’s not uncommon to take a well-known brand like Google or Amazon, and find a domain name that you can register containing them.
In the marketing community, this question seems to arise often by newcomers who see this opportunity as a get rich quick scheme, so I wanted to provide some insight for anyone who is thinking of doing this.
The short answer is no, its terrible idea that can land you many legal repercussions. But this will also depend on the context on which the brand name is used in.
Can’t I Contact the company directly and try to sell the domain to them?
If you found a domain name containing a brand name like Google or Amazon and try to sell it to them, they can legally demand that you turn it over with no compensation.
Under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) this could happen without your knowledge. One day you wake up and the domain is no longer in your control.
You can read more on the UDRP Here
Using the name in the right and wrong context:
I am not an expert in legal but here is my best example. Amazon owns the trademark to the word Amazon. It would also depend on what context the word was used for.
For example: If you registered sellonamazon.com and your content was trying to make a profit off the Amazon name then that could see you in court with a legal battle you would likely lose.
If you registered holidayintheamazon.com and the website was about holidays and had nothing to do with the online store Amazon then it could be fine, in which case the domain could have no value.
In the case of Google, since they invented the word, you probably are not even safe even if you try to create a website not related to Google.
So why is it a bad idea and what are the legal problems?
First and foremost you need to understand trademark. Large companies such as Google or Amazon will protect their brand names to the highest degree no matter how generic that name or word might be.
Once a brand name or brand-related word is trademarked it becomes a protected word that can only be used within the companies guidelines or with their permission.
Companies of this size have substantial legal teams on retainer for going after this exact sort of thing. Once they catch wind of what you have done, you will lose any money you make plus more on top of that.
You could and likely would get sued you for trademark infringement. You will be forced to turn the domain over to them, may have to pay a fine.
If you have registered a domain name containing the word Google or Amazon the best option is to just dump the domains and move on.
But I had the domain valued, and it is worth over 1 million dollars?
People love a false economy, and that’s precisely what the valuation is. Most domain valuation tools such as GoDaddy Domain Name Value often base the estimate on previous domains sold and the rarity of domains available containing that word. Good old fashion supply and demand.
Because most domains containing words like Amazon or Google already belong to them, there are not many available which can cause the tool to provide a false valuation.
Having worked in web and marketing for over ten years and working with many other successful web professionals, I have learned one thing. If you are considering registering a Google or Amazon Domain Name or even any domain that contains someone else brand then remember one thing. There are no shortcuts to success, in fact, some of the best marketing I have seen is because one company goes that little extra mile the others are too lazy to do because they try to take shortcuts.
As easy as it may sound its just not worth the risk, you are better off investing your time and energy into starting or growing your brand.