Internet Marketing Fortune Cookie #12

Staying Out Of eBay Jail


Internet Marketing Fortune Cookie

It's Wednesday, and you know what that means. It's time for another weekly Internet Business Fortune Cookie.

This week's Internet Business Fortune Cookie made me stop and look at something that has been bugging me in the back of my mind for a long time.  When I cracked open the cookie this week, I knew right away what it meant.

Hear the cookie speak:

“Be Willing To Admit That You May Be Wrong”

So what did I think I might be wrong about?

Terms And Conditions For eBay Niche Stores

As you know, I have several eBay niche stores powered by the incredibly cool phpBay software.  That software allows you to create an eBay store in any WordPress blog or other PHP-based site almost effortlessly, and it has killer SEO features not found in other tools.  In fact, I just released a video a couple of weeks ago on how I use keyword tools like Micro Niche Finder to build eBay niche stores in minutes.

But something has been bothering me.  When I did that video, I used the trademark term BMW in the URL.   Now, this may not be a great idea for several reasons, but one reason bothered me particularly.

I have been told (and believed) that the eBay terms of service (TOS) does not allow you to use a trademark name in URL before the third slash.  So, if you want to set up a BMW site using eBay tools, BMW cannot appear before the third slash.

OK: www.mycarshop.com/bmw

Not OK: myBMWcarshop.com

I believed this was true — but I don't any longer.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer and I do not offer legal advice. What follows should not be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should consult an attorney. You have been warned.

My Research on the eBay TOS

I researched this “third slash” thing. I think I had it wrong.  I think it is OK from eBay's point of view to have trademarks in the URL of eBay niche stores.

Here is the TOS from eBay on PepperJam's site:

You will not adopt or use any company name, trademark, trade name. brand, shop sign, domain name, or URL (specifically, any term before the third “/” of your URL) that incorporates as a part thereof any of eBay Inc.'s, or its corporate affiliates', (a) trademarks, tradenames, company names, brands, shop signs, domain names or URLs (including the translations and transliterations), or any variations thereof; or (b) any term that consists of a generic or descriptive word, followed by the term BAY. Further, you will not display your company name, branding or trademark in an uneven, staggered, multi-color format that, in ePN's sole discretion, invokes the distinctiveness of the famous multi-color eBay logo.

I believe that this says (paraphrasing) that You will not have a store name or URL that uses any reference to eBay or it's affiliates.

I do not believe this says that You cannot use brand names in the URL. Now, using the term BMW may aggravate someone in Germany, but eBay does not care.

Let's break it down:

You will not adopt or use any company name, trademark, trade name. brand, shop sign, domain name, or URL (specifically, any term before the third “/” of your URL)

Above means you cannot use anything in your store name or URL

…that incorporates as a part thereof any of eBay Inc.'s, or its corporate affiliates', (a) trademarks, tradenames, company names, brands, shop signs, domain names or URLs (including the translations and transliterations), or any variations thereof; or (b) any term that consists of a generic or descriptive word, followed by the term BAY.

Above means that uses any eBay trademark names (or those of eBay corporate affiliates)

Further, you will not display your company name, branding or trademark in an uneven, staggered, multi-color format that, in ePN's sole discretion, invokes the distinctiveness of the famous multi-color eBay logo.

Above means you cannot rip off or parody the eBay logo.

Now one open question is what are “corporate affiliates”? I think they mean other eBay companies like PayPal, but I am still researching that.

I spoke with an anonymous “legal professional” with experience in Internet Marketing. He did not offer me legal advice, and he is not offering you legal advice (neither am I). He recommends that you and I both consult our attorneys. He also said the following:

I interpret this to say that you may not use any ebay trademark in the space between the second and third slash of your URL.

I do not read it to say anything about what comes after the third slash.

I do not read it to say anything about the use of a NON-affiliated company's info between the second and third slash.

Determining what companies are “affiliates” is the art.

Again, BMW may care, but I do not think eBay does.

Remember, I am not a lawyer and I do not offer legal advice. The above should not be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should consult an attorney. You have been warned twice (maybe three times).

As the cookie says, Be Willing To Admit That You May Be Wrong.

Have a great day.
Mark

Photo credit: Uploaded on July 17, 2006 by headcase

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