Can someone use your legal full name as a website domain?

Asked 7 months ago - San Francisco, CA

I want to secure my legal birth right name as my website name but it is already taken. I am my own business and I want to use my name. Is there anything I can do to get my legal name from the person who owns the domain? The website link is to a Facebook account that has nothing to do with me.

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Daniel Nathan Ballard

    Contributor Level 20

    10

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You have NO right to register your name as a domain name at any of the top level domains [.com. .net, .info, even .name]. Only if a name also serves as a trademark can that right arise -- but even then, not necessarily.

    The above response is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client... more
  2. John P Corrigan

    Contributor Level 19

    11

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You can contact the domain owner and make an offer to purchase same.

    My answer is not intended to be giving legal advice and this topic can be a complex area where the advice of a... more
  3. Maurice N Ross

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    9

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Lots of people have the same legal name. There are dozens of people named "Maurice Ross", including some lawyers. Thus, I do not have the exclusive right to use my legal name as a trademark or domain name---in fact, it is common for an owner of a trademark covering a legal name to have the right to exclude others who share the same legal name from using their legal names to conduct a competing business. There are thousands of people with the legal name, Kenneth Cole, but only one of them (or his company) has the right to use the name as a trademark for a brand of designer clothes. You have no legal right to use your name as a trademark or domain name, nor can you force someone else to give up that domain name just because it is your legal name.

    Can you use your legal name in your business? This depends on whether use of your name would violate trademark law. You won't know the answer until you retain legal counsel to conduct a trademark clearance analysis. Even if you can use the name in your business and register it as a trademark, this does not necessarily mean you can exclude others from using the name---that would depend on several factors, including whether consumer confusion would be created if someone else used the name in another city or another industry. If you want to procure your legal name from the owners of the domain name, you will have to retain counsel to negotiate a license or acquisition---and the owner does not have to give you this domain name except in the unlikely event you could prove that he was engaging in cybersquatting---i.e., purchasing the domain only for purposes of resale. More generally, you need to retain legal counsel to conduct a trademark analysis before you can safely use your name in your business---it is quite possible that your counsel will conclude that you cannot use the name.

  4. Dana Howard Shultz

    Contributor Level 20

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree with my colleagues.

    You might find the post at the link below, which discusses Newt Gingrich, interesting.

    This information does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
  5. Brian Curtis Pascale

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    8

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Ever consider that the person that owns the website has the same name.

    If this Answer was of assistance please mark it as "helpful." Mr. Pascale is licensed to practice law in the... more
  6. Bruce E. Burdick

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You have several potential claims if this is a company attempting to divert business by use of your name. See an IP attorney in the San Francisco or Oakland area. I would suggest Dana Shultz, who has answered this question.

    I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is... more

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