My first domain sale

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It’s true!  I’ve sold my first domain.

I’ll go into the details shortly, but I’m very excited about this development for three reasons:

  1. Real people can actually see my domain sales pages!
  2. I had been feeling like a bit of a bonehead for buying this domain in the first place.
  3. I made the sale before the drop dead date I had identified in my last update.

The domain name in question: AppleSale.com

My purchase price: $199
Sales venue: Afternic
My sale price: $288
Commission and fees: $58
My profit: $31

At first glance you might be thinking it looks like a pretty good name; however, if you have some domaining experience (or if you’re a lawyer) then you’re probably shaking your head. When I’m done explaining, perhaps you’ll understand why I was happy just to do slightly more than break even.

The problem with this name? Trademark law. Pesky things those trademarks… but I’ve come to respect them a lot. Back in the early days of domains, you could register all manner of trademarked names. You could even profit from them substantially (or hold them for ransom) without any concern of legal action being taken against you. Fortunately that became a lot more difficult starting in 1999, when both the U.S. government and the World Intellectual Property Organization introduced legislation and a framework to give trademark holders a voice.

Today, complainants may file a grievance under the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy to legally claim an ill-gotten domain name. In order to win the case, the trademark holder must prove three things:

  1. your domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
  2. you have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
  3. your domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

Let’s apply these criteria to AppleSale.com:

  1. My domain name is about as identical as they come to one of the world’s most recognisable trademarks: Apple Computers.
  2. I have no rights to the name that I’m aware of (unless I am in fact the long lost child of Steve Jobs). Legitimate interests? Hmm… does making thousands off the back of someone else’s brand count? I thought not.
  3. Bad faith: check! I registered that baby precisely because of Apple Computers. Hey, maybe they’d even want to pay me lots of money for it, right?? Oh boy.

Long story short… the more experienced folks at NamePros clued me in. My one saving grace was that the domain itself is generic enough that it could refer to selling tasty fruit. But the advice was clear: don’t put up a site selling computers, don’t park the domain anywhere, and for God’s sake don’t approach Apple or any other tech company with an offer to sell.

The only recourse left to me was to throw it up for sale with an attractive sticker price and hope that someone else likes it. And they did! And here I am, one bonehead move corrected and thirty-one big American boffos in my pocket.

The new strategy

Brandables! I love ’em. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on what kinds of names make attractive and desirable brands. I’ve even had some success with getting some of my names listed on the BrandBucket marketplace.

Here’s my profile.

You submit names to them for free. If they’re accepted, you pay $10 each to have them published. The nice part about selling your names this way is that they get a nifty logo, a description, some prefab business ideas, and extra search traffic due to BB’s solid web presence.

It should be noted, though, that BrandBucket has some mixed reviews among the domaining community.

Many applaud their track record and suggest that they provide an excellent platform to make a high return on investment on domain names that you may otherwise have a hard time selling.

Others claim the whole system is a sham designed to make profit for the few elite sellers (with massive portfolios) off the backs of the publishing fees of smaller sellers.

I’ve talked to enough satisfied people to be willing to give them a try. We’ll see how I feel about them at this time next year.

My long term goal is to develop my own domain sales website (I already have the name picked out!) and create logos and descriptions for my names. I’ll move my domaining blog there to help generate traffic, and then throw a little money at advertising the site.

Before I can do that, I’ll need some more sales! WordPress isn’t cheap (and I’ve never used it, so… learning curve!).

Here’s hoping I have another update soon!

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