Famous Domain: Patents.Com is On-Sale

When I think of PATENTS.COM, I immediately think of Carl Oppedahl’s old law firm.  Of course, this secondary meaning was not enough to overcome the Federal Circuit’s determination that the domain name’s trademark usage was merely descriptive. [Link]

PATENTS.COM is now up for sale! As of today, the high-bid is $10,000. I expect the bidding to go much higher for this trendsetting and well established domain.

16 thoughts on “Famous Domain: Patents.Com is On-Sale

  1. Details on the new site: go to link to patents.com

    Highlights:

    “Internet Real Estate Group and Monster Venture Partners Announce Formation of Patents.com
    Patents.com will be most comprehensive source for patent data worldwide”

    “The Patents.com website will be live in the coming weeks and a more complete set of data and services will be launched in the first quarter of 2008.”

    patentmonkey.com will be integrated into patents.com

    $$ My search for the word “free” in their announcement returned no hits. $$

  2. Details on the new site: go to link to patents.com

    Highlights:

    “Internet Real Estate Group and Monster Venture Partners Announce Formation of Patents.com
    Patents.com will be most comprehensive source for patent data worldwide”

    “The Patents.com website will be live in the coming weeks and a more complete set of data and services will be launched in the first quarter of 2008.”

    patentmonkey.com will be integrated into patents.com

    $$ My search for the word “free” in their announcement returned no hits. $$

  3. Patents.com seems like an appropriate web site for buying and selling patents, rather than a marketing site for patent clients. Or the Lemelson estate could use it for the Troll Hall of Fame.

  4. Can’t help but wonder why the decision by the TTAB was taken to the CAFC in the first place. The TTAB decision was replete with so many “we think…” and “in our opinion…” that a suit in FDC was likely a better option to pursue.

    Curious what would be the outcome if the lawyers.com name had been registered by a state. After all, there is not to my knowledge a federal preemption issue involved here.

    BTW, I was awestruck to read 15 USC 1122. Think about it in the context of the arguments raised in Zoltek…

  5. Michael, If we take a look at this case. The courts found that “patents.com” cannot serve the purpose of a trademark. Last week, the CAFC decided a similar case against the owners of lawyers.com — finding that lawyers.com is generic and thus not a trademark. For these cases, the justification for barring a ‘naked transfer’ of a trademark would not hold since the domains do are generic.

  6. I am still quite interested in learning what it is about domain names that takes them outside the purview of trademark law and its limitation that the transfer of a trademark without the transfer of the goodwill associated therewith is a no-no.

  7. Not Worth It–take a quick look at the top of my rather plain GetRichSlowly.com site (with apologies to the other PatentlyO readers) and see for yourself just how much money some rather smart and successful companies are investing in premium generic domains like Patents.com.

  8. Why not just buy a Hummer H2 and paint your firm’s name on the side? You’ll get the same quality of referrals at half the price.

  9. Bid history:

    2007-04-12 – $155,000
    2007-04-12 – $70,000
    2007-04-11 – $50,000
    2007-04-11 – $25,000
    2007-04-11 – $20,000
    2007-04-10 – $10,000
    2007-04-07 – $6,350

  10. Legal rationalizations aside, I fail to see any meaningful distinction between this matter and that of a trademark holder intent on “selling” a trademark without also including associated “goodwill”, i.e., a transfer in gross.

    It is not beyond the realm of possibility that an action may lie in state courts under the rhubric of “unfair competition and deceptive trade practices”.

    Mine is not to conjecture what will eventually happen, but merely to note that the public interest in not being mislead should be a consideration in instances such as this.

  11. Patents.com is worth at least $200,000 by itself; .net “only” $50,000 (though since the likelyhood of an NDA is high, we may never know what it/they actually sold for).

    However; given the imperfect and fractured marketplace that is domain sales; unless they’re doing some other marketing besides “listing” them on their own patents.com site, they are unlikely to receive maximum value for it.

    The major institutional and individual buyers (some well known; most not) who would have paid them the highest price will never have known it was for sale.

  12. I would expect that PATENTS.COM would attract a flood of dead-end inquiries from prospective clients surfing the Internet after downing a couple of beers. Rather than spending money on a catchy domain name, a firm would be better off strengthening their current client relationships, which are a great source for additional work and meaningful referrals.

    Of course, for the first firm that purchased PATENTS.COM, it would be seen as a trend-setting, visionary firm. But if your firm is just second or third down the line, are you really going to impress anyone just because you were the highest bidder years after it was initially bought?

  13. Why is a federal TM registration necessary for patents.com? The URL is unique. Certainly, you cannot use a federal registration to prevent others from registering confusingly similar domain names.

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