Did I screw up my first .com Domain Investment?

New readers to the blog: Welcome! Please read What is this Blog About. It explains how I am an experienced ccTLD domainer, but completely new to .com domain investing. You may also like to read about My Domain Investing Journey So Far.


I excitedly drafted this post the morning I won the auction. As the weekend wore on, I realised I may have made a mistake with this, my first .com investment. Read on to find out where I may have gone wrong…

I Won My First GoDaddy Domain Auction!

So, I just won my first GoDaddy Expired Domain auction! This is my very first investment in my journey as a new .com domain investor. The domain is HaloSolar.com. I have been watching this domain all week, so it’s feels great to finally have it!

I discovered it in the GoDaddy expiring domains list at the beginning of the week. The name immediately popped out to me. For starters it is in the solar space, which is a growing industry with a high ticket price for the product. This should mean a higher price for a domain in this industry.

I also love the Halo part. Halo as a keyword has many good connotations. Part of what makes a keyword valuable are it’s connotations. Andrew Rosener always talks about the ‘connotations’ inherent to a particular word, and this is the perfect example of a word with positive connotations.

Halo means good, could also mean holy, etc. Halo as a keyword could be put in front of almost any word, and it instantly makes a brand very positive. Halo is a great brand. And of course Halo and Solar together just has a nice ring to it! It is easy to spell, and has that double syllable sound like Coca Cola. “Co-ca Coal-a”, “Hay-lo Soul-a”.

Apparently one’s brain will pick up on repeating sounds. When a melody or rhythm is easy to remember, this is part of the reason why songs get stuck in your head. I heard once that Coca Cola is one of the best brands names ever created. Co-ca Coal-la has both rhyming sounds (ca and la) AND has a repeating rhythm (da da, da da). It repeats in your ear again, after you hear it. It is an “earworm”.

We are getting super high level here…

Not that this domain is anywhere near Coca Cola brand level, but you get the drift. It potentially has some extra branding push going for it. Anything that sticks in your head, you retain. When it comes to branding, sticking in peoples brains is the name of the game. (Gee, listen to the domainer falling in love with their own domain name).

The Auction

45 minutes out from the auction end, I fired up my app and computer to get set up. I am new to GoDaddy Auctions, so I was not sure how to bid and I didn’t even know if my credit card was loaded up or not.

The auction for HaloSolar.com had sat with no bids all week. I checked the GoDaddy Investor app, but overnight the auction had already risen from the $12 minimum bid. A couple of other similar names I was watching had significant bids, so I was just hoping no one had seen HaloSolar!

After making sure my credit card was loaded I placed my very first .com auction bid!

But…someone must have had a proxy bid set up because I was instantly outbid. So as we all do, I started to get swept up in the bidding process. The bidding went all the way up to $95.

This was my first auction, and first potential purchase, so I set a cap of $100 for this auction, or I would walk away.

As the auction counted down I placed my final bid of $100. I was sure I would get out-bid. I kept refreshing as the final 2 minutes ticked down!

At 0 seconds, I still held the final bid at $100! I had just won my first .com auction, for a great name, at a great price!

Or so I thought…

Trademark Issue?

Earlier in the week I had an hour to kill waiting for someone, so I tried to navigate the GoDaddy Auctions platform on mobile. It is very hard to use on mobile. It seems strange that it doesn’t work well on iPhone.

HaloSolar was the best low bid domain I found, that was expiring soon. After almost giving up fighting the platform on mobile, I was happy to find a good domain I actually would buy.

It had been a very busy week for me, so I did not get a chance to do any research on this domain. After the auction, I had some time over the weekend, so I started to do some googling of Halo and Solar. It looks like there is HaloSolar.net ranking on the first page.

I decided to do a full check on the US Patent and Trademark Office website, to see what I could find. There was no formal trademark for “Halo Solar” luckily!

I thought there would be a lot more trademarks for the word “Halo”, but surprisingly there wasn’t. I checked each instance of a “Halo” trademark but none were in a solar classification. So I breathed a sigh of relief that I didn’t just do something stupid!

But then I started to think about it more. The folks using HaloSolar.net are currently using that as their brand, so while there is no formal trademark registered, do they have an unregistered trademark from existing use in commerce?

I don’t want to be involved in any potential trademark issues. I prefer easy sailing. I have always avoided trademarked terms in my .co.nz investing. You are going to get your ass handed to you in court, or a permanent record of the domain dispute against your name. Not worth it.

Something I Didn’t Think of

In the NZ market I usually buy one word domains. I almost never buy two word domains. I always buy generic one word terms only, words that could be good brands.

Because I am so used to buying one word domains, I almost never need to do NZ trademark searches. The nature of one word generic domains is that, even if there is existing use of that word, another business can use the word in a different trademark class or industry.

Accent Interiors and Accent Flowers can both use the brand ‘Accent’ without affecting each other. Buying Accent.com means you can sell it to anyone without any trademark issues. Generic one word-ers are the best investments, as any type of business can buy it from you. The more potential buyers, the more chance of a higher sale price.

The thing here though is that I bought a two word .com. When you move from one word to two words, you now have a brand that could be quite distinctive and unique.

With No Formal US Trademark, I Believe This Domain Name is Fine

Here is my thinking…

1. If there is no formal US trademark, surely Joe’s Plumbing in Kansas can operate without affecting Joe’s Plumbing in New York. Even if a local business has an unregistered trademark in Joes Plumbing, I doubt they are going to battle another firm in a different state?

2. Solar tends to be a localized business. There are very few national solar companies. Trade and Service Businesses tend to operate on a local level. I.e. a plumber is very unlikely to try to and build a national plumbing service – they will stay within a state, or at most a few states, if they are ambitious.

3. If a company was willing to become a national brand, they would surely register the trademark for their name. To me, the fact there is no formal trademark for Halo Solar means that the existing business on HaloSolar.net is happy to remain a local business, using the name locally in Illinois.

Lessons Learned for My Next Domain Investment

Research, research, research!

I made a rookie mistake on this purchase and didn’t do a trademark search BEFORE I bought the name! However luckily there is no formal US trademark for ‘Halo Solar’.

Steps to take when considering a domain to invest in:

1. Do a Trademark Search First.

Say I am buying a two word domain name/brand. If there are any existing trademarks, and it is a unique sounding combination of two words, then probably steer clear.

(Unless the two word phrase is very commonly used in culture, such as ‘Dream Big’. Names like this have mind share, and are harder to trademark. They could make great domain investments.)

2. Do a Comprehensive Google search.

If it looks like there is a business trying to build a national or global brand name around a term, but they don’t have a formal trademark, then likely avoid the name. Especially if they have been operating for a long time.

If they see the domain name has a new owner ,they may decide to defend their unregistered trademark rights to try and get the name. It is better to pick less riskier names unless the term is very generic.

As a newbie to .com investing, I am realising that they require a decent amount of research before going to auction.

I will be posting more about my thought patterns when researching and selecting my future domain name purchases. I can’t wait to get stuck in! Hopefully my stumbling along will help others, as I learn how to invest in this new world of .com.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment below! Or give your opinion on this Twitter thread.

My Twitter is: @NZDomainer


Disclaimer: This blog post is not legal advice. Don’t take my word for anything. Do your own research.

7 thoughts on “Did I screw up my first .com Domain Investment?

  1. I think you’re making a bigger deal of it than it is. True they don’t need a registered TM to assert rights, but they’re also not a global or even a national brand. I could create a Halo Solar in New York and there wouldn’t be any confusion because they are in Illinois and operate locally. There are hundreds of Joes Pizzas across the US owned by different people.

    As long as you don’t park the domain and don’t reach out to them offering the domain for sale you should be fine. You actually didn’t buy it with them in mind so you have that going for you.

    Brandable domains are inherently more risky than dictionary or descriptive domains, but they also are great low-hanging fruit that you can build a solid portfolio of relatively cheaply. I think you’re going to struggle breaking into .com if you only buy pure generics as they are very expensive.

    I think you made a great buy and I’d personally hang onto it.

    Like

    1. Thank you very much for the reply Michael! Great point about brandables being a lower cost way to build a portfolio than generics.

      I have a tendency to over analyse, which I guess can be good or bad thing in domaining.

      I have started to get into the daily NameBio.com reports and I can see that the site will be my best friend before long! Thanks for your insights here – it means alot.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s