The .com domain name I want to use is already taken. Can I use one of the new domain name extensions like .info?

Technically, yes you can use the .info, .net, .org, .biz, any of the approved extensions.  However, there are a few things to consider before registering similar domain names.  They include legal issues, business ethics, marketing issues, and confusion to the customer. 

Legal Issues - First and foremost you should consult your attorney.  Your attorney should be one of the first people you turn to for advice.  It will save you money and frustration in the end.  That being said, if the name is trademarked in any way, you should stay away from it.  People spend a lot of time and money trade marking their name and they are very protective of it and they will find you.  

If the name is not trademarked then legally you can register the name.  You may want to trademark the name to protect your investment.  

Business Ethics - You may find a domain name that is not trademarked and you decide to use it.  However, if another company offers the same type of products or services that you do and caterers to the same clientele, you could have still have legal issues.  It may appear that you are trying to feed off of their reputation and marketing.  If they have a good reputation this may work in your favor.  But what if they decide to go out of business or start to cheat their clients?  Do you really think people will understand you are a different company?  I doubt it.  

Marketing Issues - Once you have a domain name and Web site, you will begin to spend time and money marketing it.  Consumers as a whole do not listen or read... they assume they know all they need to know.  So, let’s say your company’s Web site is www.giftbaskets.net and you advertise that domain name.  However, another company in your market area has the domain name www.giftbaskets.com.  A shopper hears your ad on the radio but only remembers www.giftbaskets so they assume it was .com.  You paid for the ad, but who benefited?  

Consumers assume that all domain names end in .com.  Just as consumers know that an 800 number is toll free, asking "What is your 800 number?"   888 and 877 are also toll free numbers, but consumers need to be told that.  Whenever possible stick with .com.

March 1, 2003

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