Due to trademark laws, Snapchat can take legal action against any domain including their trademark but they are even more stringent with “infringing domains.”
Since Snapchat is against pornography and adult industry models using their platforms to promote themselves, it will probably come as no surprise that when dealing with an infringing domain in regards to pornography they are very demanding. Before your purchase your perfect domain containing the words Snap or Snapchat so that it’s easy to remember, I want to tell you why you shouldn’t do that.
Buying a domain with the words Snap or Snapchat can land you in some serious legal issues.
I had an idea to start a model directory of models who offer access to lifetime access to their Snapchat accounts. I was super shocked to find that the domain “LifetimeSnapchat” and “LifetimeSnap” were both available! Looking back on this now, I’m not shocked at all. After I built my site, the day following it’s completion I received an e-mail from a Brand Protection Firm that works for Snapchat. Here is what was said:
We represent Snap Inc. (“Snap”) in intellectual property matters. Our client’s SNAPCHAT® branded mobile app is among the top photo and video sharing applications in the world, with more than 178 million daily users and more than 10 billion views per day. Snap has extensively promoted and used the SNAPCHAT® mark since at least as early as September 2011 and owns numerous trademark registrations and applications for the SNAPCHAT® mark in many countries throughout the world, including U.S. Reg. Nos. 4,375,712, 4,933,187, 4,971,934 and 4,943,051. The SNAPCHAT® mark has become well-known and famous and indicates to consumers that photo and video sharing software, social networking services, publishing services, and other related goods and services originate from or are sponsored by Snap. Snap is also the proprietor of a large family of SNAP marks, including, without limitation, SNAP®, U.S. Reg. Nos. 4,111,564 and 4,345,533; SNAP INTERACTIVE®, U.S. Reg. No. 4,111,563; SNAP ADS®, U.S. Reg. No. 5,046,768; SNAP CHANNEL®, U.S. Reg. No. 4,967,313; SNAPCODE®, U.S. Reg. No. 4,925,610; and, SNAPMOJITM. Needless to say, Snap considers its SNAPCHAT® mark and its family of SNAP marks (collectively the “Snap Marks”) to be among its most valuable assets. These assets enjoy broad protection under federal, state, and international laws.
We recently learned that you are operating a pornographic website located at lifetimesnapchat.com, using the SNAP and/or SNAPCHAT name. Because your use of the SNAP and/or SNAPCHAT name is identical to Snap’s use of its Snap Marks, visitors to your website are likely to believe that your website is published, sponsored, endorsed by, or associated with Snap, which is not the case, and the Snap Marks are likely to be diluted and tarnished.
Your use of the SNAP and/or SNAPCHAT name in connection with a pornographic website is naturally of great concern to Snap, is a violation of its rights under federal and state trademark and unfair competition laws, as well as damaging to Snap’s business and reputation. Snap therefore requests that you immediately:
1. Cease use of the terms “SNAP” and/or “SNAPCHAT” in the title of your website and services offered therein, and on any other websites, social media accounts, or products and services developed or sold by you;
2. Abandon the lifetimesnapchat.com domain name, and move your website content to another domain that does not utilize the SNAP or SNAPCHAT marks; and
3. Transfer the lifetimesnapchat.com domain name to Snap.
We hope to resolve this matter amicably and without the need for legal proceedings. Please reply to this email to confirm that you intend to comply with Snap’s requests. If we do not hear from you, this matter may be escalated for further action.
Nothing contained in this letter constitutes an express or implied waiver of any rights, remedies, or defenses of Snap, all of which are expressly reserved.
What do you do if you have an infringing domain or webpage and Snapchat threatens to take legal actions against you?
After receiving that message, I was pretty mind boggled. I asked if they would reimburse my domain purchase since they were demanding that I transfer it to Snapchat, to which they replied:
Thank you for responding. Unfortunately, we do not reimburse expenses incurred for infringing registrations.
Please immediately remove all content and transfer the domain to Snapchat, Inc.
Left with few options, and being stubborn as I am, I did not want to flush the $40 I spent on these domains down the drain. I also did not want to be sued by a multi-million dollar company. So what was the best option in this case? I contacted GoDaddy (my domain registrar) and asked for a refund for my domains. I had both of them refunded, put back into the domain registry and now it’s as if I didn’t even own them. I finally messaged back that I did not own the domain and I received no follow up from them.
If you are within your return window for your domain when Snapchat reaches out to you, then I would highly suggest refunding them. Although if this isn’t something you want to do, we do have a few more ideas:
- 1. Comply with Snapchat’s request, give them the domain and don’t put up a fight. That is probably your easiest option and the best option to not land you in legal troubles.
2. Create a parody site that has no Snapchat or Snap affiliation to prevent their trademark complaint from being held up in a legal setting. For example I was suggested this funny option when my domain “LifetimeSnapchat” was brought into question: “A website called Lifetimes Nap Chat, that recommends the best audio/chat podcasts to listen to that will guarantee you nap for a lifetime.”
That’s about all you can do, but I would still highly suggest reaching out to your domain registrar and requesting a refund even if you’ve owned the domain for a while. Tell them that you were contact about trademark laws and can no longer use the domain. They may refund you for the time left on the purchase.
How can I promote my Snapchat through an easy to remember link but not get into legal trouble?
Try using domains that are easy to remember but do not include any trademarked words in them. You could make them specific to the type of service your private account provides, for example: if you are a BBW model who offers lifetime access you could do LifetimeBBW. Lifetime and BBW are easy to remember key words. You can also use your name if it is easy to remember and add a keyword, like YourNamePrivate, YourNamePremium, YourNameExclusive, YourNameNude, or something of that nature. If you already own a main website and want to make it easier on yourself you can even use subdomains like Premium.YourWebsite.com, although that might not be as easy for customers to remember since it’s a bit longer.
How can I promote my Snapchat outside of having a convenient domain name?
Social media marketing on top of using sites with good traffic is the best way to ensure you’re getting Snapchat sales. Make sure to check out our Guide to Selling Premium Snapchat Subscriptions if you need help.
What do I do if I want to use a new service since Snapchat is against pornography?
We have a guide of Premium Snapchat Alternatives that may be able to help you.