Skip to main content

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

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.

+ Read More

Attorney answers 6

Posted

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 licensed attorney in your State should be obtained. Please click "helpful" or "best answer" if my answer added any value or add a "comment" if you have more info for me to help you get a better answer.

Posted

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 relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.

John P Corrigan

John P Corrigan

Posted

Then how can it exist as Asker states if not already valid?

Daniel Nathan Ballard

Daniel Nathan Ballard

Posted

John, domain name registrations are purchased on a first come basis. That is, the first person to register a particular domain name owns that registraton for however long it wants to own that registration. I can purchase johnpcorrigan.com right now and you can neither stop me nor force its transfer over to you [that domain name is, by the way, available to register]. ONLY if you use "John P. Corrigan" as a trademark can you force me -- through a ACPA suit or UDRP proceeding -- to transfer it to you. Very, very few names are used as trademarks. For more information read 15 U.S.C. 1125(d).

Asker

Posted

Interesting. So, here's a quick info to this matter. I am a model and being misrepresented to this modeling site they have had my legal name for 4yrs linking to their agency. I have no legal contract with them also never had a contract with them. They do not have the same name as me. I've had people try to book me and they have been trying to go through them.

John P Corrigan

John P Corrigan

Posted

Thx Daniel.

Daniel Nathan Ballard

Daniel Nathan Ballard

Posted

Based on your new information, I think your best course of action is to have your own trademark attorney assert a "false association" claim against the company under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act [the federal unfair competition statute]. While Section 43(d) specifically addresses cybersquatting via the registration and use of a domain name, that Section is not the exclusive remedy for such conduct and does not preclude using Section 43(a) when the false association is accomplished by a domain name. In short, there is no cybersquatting but there likely is false association and, as my colleague notes, perhaps fraud and other business torts [interference with prospective business advantage, etc.].

Posted

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 State of New York. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and time-lines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Pascale strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to insure proper advice is received.

Asker

Posted

No they do not have the same name, I am a model and being misrepresented by a company that has no legal contract with me. And the site goes straight to their business.

Maurice N Ross

Maurice N Ross

Posted

If you the company is misrepresenting that it continues to represent you by using this name, then you have good claims against this company for fraud, cybersquatting, etc. You need to retain a litigation counsel to pursue this company. The use of the domain name is the tip of the iceberg---what matters more is its attempt to continue to fraudulently claim that it represents you long after your relationship with them ended.

Maurice N Ross

Maurice N Ross

Posted

Excuse the typo in the first line: "If your former company"

Daniel Nathan Ballard

Daniel Nathan Ballard

Posted

Based on your new information, I think your best course of action is to have your own trademark attorney assert a "false association" claim against the company under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act [the federal unfair competition statute]. While Section 43(d) specifically addresses cybersquatting via the registration and use of a domain name, that Section is not the exclusive remedy for such conduct and does not preclude using Section 43(a) when the false association is accomplished by a domain name. In short, there is no cybersquatting but there likely is false association and, as my colleague notes, perhaps fraud and other business torts [interference with prospective business advantage, etc.].

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

You have several potential claims if this is a company attempting to divert business by use of your name. See an IP attorney in California.

Posted

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.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

Indeed. Ronald McDonald (and there are a number of people named that) cannot register than famous brand name even if it's their given name. Not as a trademark, servicemark and not as a domain name. If they try, and as I recall at least one did, they will have the opportunity to explain their actions to a judge and will likely end up paying substantial damages.

Posted

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.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

Interesting that Newt was not "conservative" as respects the www.newtgingrich.com domain.

Posted

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 at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

Dana Howard Shultz

Dana Howard Shultz

Posted

Thank you.

Business topics

Recommended articles about Business

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer