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Unavailable Domain Name Guide

How to Get That Unavailable Domain Name

Amrusha Chati

Amrusha Chati

14 December 20235 min read

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getting an unavailable domain name

So, you've got your small business idea ready to go and found the perfect business name. But alas, the perfect domain name is unavailable! Now you've got your heart set on a domain name currently in someone else's possession.

But fear not because the online world does have some tricks up its sleeve. Welcome to the maze of domain acquisition where, among various methods, the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) could be your answer to getting seemingly unavailable domain names.

What exactly is UDRP, and how can it help you get your dream domain name? Let's take a look at how UDRP can be an invaluable tool when it comes to getting an unavailable domain name.

What is UDRP?

The Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) is a process established by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to resolve disputes between Internet users regarding domain names.

It's designed for generic top-level domain names (gTLDs) like .com, .net, and .org. These top-level domains are usually in high demand as they rank better on search engines like Google and Bing.

UDRP provides a mechanism for trademark holders to challenge the registration of a domain name that they believe infringes on their trademark. It offers a quicker and more cost-effective alternative to litigation for settling disputes.

Under UDRP, a complainant (the party claiming rights to the domain) must prove three elements:

1. Rights in the mark

This is your foundation. You'll need to gather your evidence—be it trademark registrations or documentation of your mark's use in the commercial realm as a brand. Even if you don't own the exact domain name, demonstrate ownership or legitimate rights to a trademark identical or confusingly similar to the name in question.

2. Domain owner's lack of legitimate rights

Expose the chinks in the armor of the current domain owner. Show where they fall short in holding legitimate rights to the domain. This might include a lack of trademark ownership, absence of commercial use, or other factors.

3. Bad faith registration and use

This is an option in cases where you suspect foul play by the domain name's current owner. Show that the domain was registered and is being used in bad faith, such as for profit, to disrupt a competitor's business, or to deceive users. Delve into their actions since acquiring the domain. 

Are they using it to redirect traffic misleadingly? Profiteering off its mere ownership? Or simply blocking others from rightfully using it? Connect the dots and paint a clear picture of their questionable practices.

If a complainant successfully proves these elements, the domain can be transferred to the complainant's ownership or, in some cases, suspended or canceled. But bear in mind that the process requires evidence and careful legal argumentation.

Cracking the UDRP code

Now that we've understood the basics of UDRP, let's talk strategy. Getting the UDRP to work in your favor is like putting together a puzzle. Each piece needs to fit perfectly to complete the picture.

Should UDRP be your play?

The UDRP can sometimes be an expensive and litigious affair. So before you go down that road, consider whether the UDRP makes sense for you or if it's just another hurdle. Is that particular domain name worth it?

Consider a few other options like these to get an optimal domain name for your business:

Purchase from the owner

You can directly negotiate with the current owner of the desired domain name to buy a domain. Websites like Sedo, Flippa, or domain marketplaces often list domains for sale. Contacting the owner directly or through these platforms might lead to a sale if they want to part with the domain. This route could be beneficial if you're trying to purchase domains from other countries outside the US.

Wait for expiry

Sometimes, patience can pay off if you have the time and flexibility. If the current owner doesn't renew the domain, it might become available again when it expires. Use domain monitoring to track its expiration date, and if it becomes available, you can register it through a domain registrar.

Alternative domain extensions

If the perfect name you want is too far out of reach, it's time to return to the drawing board. Consider using a different domain extension (.net, .co, .io, etc.) if the .com version is unavailable. While .com is the most popular, other extensions might serve your purpose just as well, especially when supported by robust digital marketing, SEO strategy, web traffic, and web presence.

Alternatively, search for any other available domain name you could use instead. Sometimes, even a different spelling could work for similar domain names. You may well land on a different but equally great domain name for your brand, site, product, or service.

Trademark investigation

Ensure your ideal domain name doesn't infringe on existing trademarks. As it's a cornerstone of your intellectual property, it's essential to do your due diligence. A name that's too similar to a trademarked name could result in legal complications and potential. Conduct thorough research to avoid any potential disputes.

Contact a domain broker or domain registrar

When you decide on a domain name for your website, blog, or online business, you don't directly own that name. Instead, you lease it for a specific period, usually annually, from a domain registrar like GoDaddy or Google Domains. 

These domain registrars act as intermediaries between individuals or businesses and the domain registry authorities like ICANN.

Uniform rapid suspension

If you've got a clear case of trademark infringement or domain abuse, the "Uniform Rapid Suspension" service might be the right answer.

Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) is a rights protection mechanism designed to swiftly handle clear-cut domain name abuse or infringement cases.

The URS process is quicker and less expensive than UDRP and specifically targets cases of trademark infringement or blatant abuse of domain names, for example, cybersquatting or a domain hack. It's available for gTLDs like .com, .net, and .org. It's a fast-tracked process meant for cases where wrongful practices are blatant and possible to prove.

In the quest for a great domain, patience is vital. The UDRP process is about balancing staking your legitimate claim while exposing the flaws in the current owner's setup.

Remember, it's not always a straight path. Sometimes, you might need to pivot to alternate routes like direct negotiation or the rapid suspension process. But armed with a thorough understanding of the options and processes, that once "unavailable" domain might just find its way into your grasp. Happy hunting!


How do I find domain names that are available?

Check domain broker websites like Godaddy or Google Domains to find an available domain name. These allow you to search through domain names to check availability, and some even offer options to broker a purchase deal with the original owner of the mark or domain.

Why is it difficult to get a .com domain?

.com domains are usually bought and locked by professional and expert domainers or specialists. This, in turn, causes the prices to rise and makes it harder for a startup, organization, or person to get a domain that matches their online business or brand well. 

What is the next best domain if .com is not available?

If the .com domain is unavailable, the .net TLD is the next most popular alternative to the .com extension. Initially created only for networking websites, the .net domain has become increasingly popular as .com domains became unavailable.

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Amrusha is a versatile professional with over 12 years of experience in journalism, broadcast news production, and media consulting. Her impressive career includes collaborating extensively with prominent global enterprises. She garnered recognition for her exceptional work in producing acclaimed shows for Bloomberg, a renowned business news network. Notably, these shows have been incorporated into the esteemed curriculum of Harvard Business School. Amrusha's expertise also encompassed a 4-year tenure as a consultant at Omidyar Network, a leading global impact investing firm. In addition, she played a pivotal role in the launch and content strategy management of the startup Live History India.