A common mistake for small businesses is to think that, once you get a trademark, your brand is safe. It may be.
But consider what happened to a business owner who sold a product called “upcakes,” which is an upside-down frosted cupcake. They opened their business several years ago, secured trademarks on their business name, logo, and main product lines. Unfortunately, as it turns out, someone had been monitoring the activity of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website, spotted their trademark application, and secured www.upcakes.com as the web address (also called U.R.L.) before they were able to.
Others have made the same mistake. Even if you have a valid trademark, someone (and anyone) could just go ahead and register a U.R.L. You would then either have to pay that someone a hefty price, assuming that someone is even willing to sell.
Cybersquatting, also known as domain squatting, is the registering of a web address, U.R.L., or domain name of another with the bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark of another. These cybersquatters then offer to sell the domain name to the company who owns the trademark at an inflated price. Fry’s Electronics, Avon, and Hertz were among the victims of cybersquatters. Believe it or not, there are people out there who check databases (like the U.S. Trademark database) to see if your company has registered a web address or not.
The solution and lesson here is simple. Remember to register your web address early. When considering names for your company, double check to make sure the web address is available.