Choosing a Domain Name: Some Dos and Don’ts - Before you even choose your name
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The first thing you should remember not to do has nothing to do with choosing your domain name and everything to do with registering it. You may figure that it is best to register your domain name through your Web host; your host might even offer domain name registration as a free or inexpensive service. It is tempting to let them do the work so that you’re not bothered by it.
Do not succumb to this temptation. It is not difficult to register a domain name; if you have purchased anything online or filled out a form on a website, you already have all the skills you need. It is not even particularly expensive to register your domain name; there are registrars that will charge as little as $10 per year per domain name. Their service is often as good as or even better than the larger registrars charging $35 or more.
Make sure your domain name is registered in your own name, with your up-to-date contact information. Keep in mind that some disreputable domain name suppliers will register your domain name using their own information. If you are at all worried about that, check the information registered for your domain name in the Whois database. You can check it at http://www.internic.net/whois.html or http://www.networksolutions.com/en_US/whois/index.jhtml.
Letting your Web host register your domain name can cause headaches when you decide to change your host, which happens a lot more often than you might think. It is not uncommon for a Web host to balk about transferring a domain name, even charging a fee for the transaction or flat out refusing to perform the transfer. If you run into this problem, tell the offending host that you will report them to the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees the domain name registration business. Be prepared to follow through – but chances are, they’ll fall in line without any need for further action from you. In any case, you’re on more solid ground if you are the owner listed for the domain name rather than your Web host.
Another thing to avoid is a domain name that infringes on copyright or trademark rights. Just because a registrar allows you to purchase a particular domain, this does not mean that you have exclusive rights to it. Even if you are an associate or affiliate of a particular company, do not use any part of that company’s trademark in your domain name, unless you like being the defendant in a lawsuit and are eager to meet the company’s lawyers. You could very easily lose your domain name in a legal battle. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) allows you to perform a trademark search from its website; check it out at http://www.uspto.gov/. If you already have any domain names in mind, a little research now could save a lot of heartache later.
Now that those major warnings are out of the way, it’s time to turn to the fun part: actually creating your company’s domain name.
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