Apple iphone trademark misuse on eBay

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I came across an article today where eBay cancelled auctions for six iPhones from the .com site. They were pre-sales but as the iphone is not due for release until June in the US eBay took the understandable view point that the auction breached their pre-sales rules (which state the item must be available within 30 days of the auction ending).

Nothing particularly new there then, apart from a throw away snippet at the end of the article:

A popular item is an ‘iPhone’ email account with Gmail with addresses such as [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] going for as little as 99 cents.

There is an increasing number of email addresses and URLs being sold for popular products. Each is hyped as the “Must have” email address if you want to sell that product. Sellers and buyers should be aware this is a dangerous game to play though.

Microsoft have already reclaimed thousands of web addresses such as and in the US the 1999 Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act provides for fines of up to $100,000 for anyone convicted of registering a domain name “that is identical, similar or derived from an existing trademark with an intent to profit.”

Anyone buying or selling email addresses or URLs which are misspellings or variations of tradenames should be wary. Realistically it’s doubtful if it’s a huge business advantage for an eBay seller anyway.


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