Buying Trademarked Domains
The domain name for your biggest competitor is about to expire, and you have already placed a back order to purchase it. Do you get to keep it?
Most likely not. At the end of 2004 ICANN, the nonprofit global organization that sets domain policies, added a grace period after a domain expires when the owner can still choose to renew the domain. So when the domain expires, the website and related email addresses will stop working, but the owner will still have a few days to renew. Even if the owner of the domain has forgotten that it is about to expire, it will probably be noticed when the website stops working. If you would like to find out more information about your own domain renewal policies, check out the documentation you received when you first purchased your domain name.
Even if you are able to purchase your competitors domain, trademark law may prevent you from keeping it. When you purchase a domain name from a registrar, they will only check to see if it is available, not if you have the right to own it. In court cases, if the person who bought the domain name is found to have purchased it for illicit reasons (i.e. by purchasing a domain only to force the trademark owner to buy it back at a higher price), the courts will almost always side with the trademark owner. In cases where both parties have a legitimate claim to the domain (i.e. where the domain is part of both business names), the laws are much more complex.
This is still a relatively new issue, so recent court decisions could have a big impact on the outcome of your dispute. If you have any questions about domain name or trademark disputes, it would be wise to find a lawyer that specializes in intellectual property and trademark law.