If A Big Co Goes To This Extent To Get A TM They Would Do The Same To Get A Domain: The Story Of Apple & The TM For iPad

Gizmodo.com wrote a post the other day entitled: “” This Is How Apple Swindled the iPad Trademark”

Beyond being an interesting read about Apple and the iPad trademark it should serve as a lesson to all domainers as to the extend a large company will go to disguise itself to acquire a prime piece of IP property, be it a trademark or a domain name for penny’s on the dollar

Of course this tactic by large corporations to use dummy corps and third party corporations to acquire valuable assets for pennies on the dollar goes back much further than the Internet or the acquisition of IP assets

Back when Disney decided to build Walt Disney World in Orlando they purchased most of the land that would eventually comprise Disney World Florida, and its associated Parks and hotels, but famously using various dummy corporations to keep the acquisition costs low.

As a domain holder, unless you assume the person/company expressing interest in acquiring your domain name is in fact the best and highest user for the domain and price it accordingly you’re going to leave a lot of money on the table.

Read the story about Apple and how they acquired the iPad TM.

Its further proof that you have to price your domains as if it was being sort after by the highest and best user of the domain, and not by whom the buyer represents they are.

Its a great cautionary tale and will give you quite an education to see how “Big Business” operates.



  1. says

    Good post Mike … something we should all be aware of when potential buyers contact us. I’m sure we could all come up with a number of examples of this we’ve dealt with over the years. I really like the ones who don’t know how to cover up the “trail” that leads back to them and then calling them out on the pathetic deception. Seems to result in some pretty funny name calling … in one case I was called a “psychic cybersquatter” for regging a drop some 4 years before this company even considered changing there name. Berryhill tore him apart … it was classic :) In the end I just got sick of all the games and it convinced me that when any serious offers come in I won’t do anything besides telling them to resend their best offer for consideration ( should I ever consider selling), include their full contact, what company they work for or represent preferably from a company email address. If I can’t confirm the info … or their offers blow … it’s ignored.

  2. says

    You’ve taught us this lesson before with Meet.me et al, but definitely is worth repeating.

    I think the converse must also be true: when buying a domain (wholesale), think of who the best possible buyer would be to help determine your maximum acquisition cost.

  3. says

    You see..in China, they cheat in front of your face

    in USA, they cheat you behind your back.

    whatever, both works!!!

    It is human nature folks, people cheat all the time so do the animals.

  4. says

    Lovely lesson this teaches new businesses out there. Apple resorts to these kinds of tactics, becomes the largest public company in the world. That’s right kids, cheat and lie to get what you want.

  5. says

    Good read Michael! Keep using the term “Dummy Corporation” A LOT so people get all excited about the term! :) I just bought that domain the other day.

    The Green Bay Packers did the same thing Walt did around the stadium recently. They set up several dummy corporations and purchased a lot of land.

    “the highest and best user of the domain” I am going to think of that line from here on out when somebody contacts me.

  6. says

    Anyone that is being honest with you will never refuse to or get pissed about answering polite, reasonable questions pertaining to the deal. Honest people have nothing to hide ….

  7. domo sapiens says

    There is a very good thread about “Stealth Companies” at the old domainstate .com , the way they operate and most of their Corporate names , in the same thread J . Berryhill offers great advice on identifying your potential buyer, to “know thy customer ” (when possible) it’s essential , this is one of the big faults of most of the current Sales plataforms “negotiating blindly” , I’ve done my share of giving away good domains to big Corporations as a result …

  8. Josh says

    They did nothing illegal and it is a common practice.

    However in terms of the gaur. they are not competitors….

    Why in the world was of that promise showed in an email and not part of a solid contractual agreement?

    That is the only odd and perhaps grey area here, otherwise dumby this, fake name that, neither is illegal and if you cannot handle these realities then this and most other business is not for you.

  9. Back in the real World says

    Lets put the Apple trademark case to one side and look at this from the point of view of a company trying to purchase a domain.

    Billion $ company makes contact with owner of satthereparked.com but does not reveal its identity. Owner of domain values it at $10,000 starts off by asking for $20,000 and settles for $10,000.

    The alternative

    Billion $ company makes contact with owner of satthereparked.com, the marketing director emails using their company email. Owner of the domain values it at $10,000 however when he reads the email he nearly falls of his chair. The owner of the domain speands the next 12 hours thinking about the new Lambo thats just been unveiled at the motorshow, the apartment overlooking Central Park that he always fancied and the boys weekend to Vegas that will be legendary. Owner sends a reply asking for $3,000,000. Marketing director at Billion $ company doesnt buy the domain but everytime the subject comes up with anyone recommends that they never reveal their true identity.

  10. Michael H. Berkens says


    Right no I’m not blaming the Big Co from keeping their identity secret and trying to get the domain at the cheapest price possible, I’m just telling people to ASSUME anytime they get an email asking about a domain its probably not from a kid in or just out of college, a startup with very limited funding, someone who just lost their job or any of the usual that we get several times a week.

    Instead ASSUME its from the highest and best possible buyer for the domain and price it like it was Google or Apple acquiring the domain for branding purposes.

    If it is actually a poor college student inquiring about the domain, you will pass on a $3K sale

  11. says

    @Back in the real World … I think in some cases you’re right. People find out it’s XXXXXXXX and instantly they think they can ask insane prices. But as with anything else … rational heads need to prevail. I can personally recall one domain I sold for $25k to someone that gave a “semi honest” identity and I found out a couple weeks later from a friend familiar with the buyer co and was told they had allotted $80k for the domain. So had I done more research I wouldn’t have left so much on the table. On the other hand … it’s hard to complain too much as I got the price I was asking.

    I would like to say it’s slimy to misrepresent yourself to get the best deal … but I would guess most people wouldn’t reveal anymore info than needed. I’ve done it when buying cars before … dress down when going to the dealership. I did when buying my house and did pretty well in both cases. Should I feel bad about that? After all, no one twisted the arms of the sellers they decided the offer was acceptable and agreed. Sellers remorse is a bitch … but it’s not the buyers fault.

  12. Back in the real World says

    MHB –

    Yes I understand and agree with what you are saying. It does bring up another type of argument though taking a good price or, you Americans have a baseball term for this that I cant remember correctly, swinging for the big hits (you know what I mean ;-).

    Zoot –

    Valid points and I agree with those.

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