Trademarks in Affiliate Domains: a Cause for Concern?

Over the past few days I have reviewed over a hundred of affiliate applications into a program I manage, but 3 particularly stood out. One of them was from the UK, one from Serbia and one from Indonesia. These applications can be gathered into one group, because all three had one thing in common — established trademarks in the domains of their websites. Here are some interesting screenshots:

Merchant trademark in affiliate domain

Merchant trademark in affiliate domain

Merchant trademark in affiliate domain

Both iPhone and Travelocity are registered trademarks which belong to Apple Inc [TM registered on 9 Feb 2010] and Sabre Holdings Corporation (owner of respectively.

None of the above applications were into Apple’s or Travelocity’s affiliate programs. But does this mean there is no reason for concern? Quite the contrary! If they are squatting on trademarks of other merchants, there is no guarantee that they won’t do the same to you. I declined each of the above affiliate applications, and suggest that other affiliate program managers handle such situations in a similar manner.

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5 thoughts on “Trademarks in Affiliate Domains: a Cause for Concern?”

  1. Good Catch! When I read the title, I first thought in my head was, “not if affiliate managers are doing their jobs.” When I was an affiliate manager I quickly discovered that there were a lot of things to be concerned about. Granted this was on a CPA network, but I was probably at a 20-1 ratio. I was denying 20 crap applications for every 1 that I was approving and giving a chance. Bottom line is the days of auto-approval or anything of the sort are over. Affiliate managers have to be affiliate investigators and make sure that they are representing their brands with good clean traffic and that means closely monitoring the playground.

  2. Very good points, A CRM (btw, what’s the name behind that nick?). Unfortunately, very many merchants (over 50% of those that I see) are still auto-approving, getting themselves into the troubles they don’t know of.

  3. One thing that merchants were always concerned about was the thought of exceeding 2% of chargebacks. One thing is for sure, that if you haven’t monitored the sources of your traffic you are most likely in for higher percentages of chargebacks and fraud.

    Name behind it is Jed Malmberg with eSilverBullet. I will leave comments as Jed@Affiliate tools on your site.

  4. Completely agree with the main point. However, might be a preliminary step before bouncing, assuming there are no other immediate causes for concern. Prelim step could be to inquire whether they are using the trademark term with the consent of the trademark holder, e.g., hold a direct relationship with travelocity and travelocity has approved the site. For example, we hold domains that contain the trademarks Comcast, Charter, Cablevision, etc. But we also hold direct agreements with those trademark holders and have their consent to do so. For any sub-affiliates who want to use trademarks we try to get the holder approval. And, we’re always looking for good affiliates for our cable and telco programs.

  5. Very interesting information, Bill. I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t assume that they may have official authorizations from the merchants… Off to put together a text for a special email message to use for such affiliates.

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