Workforce.com: The danger of not owning the “best” domain for your company

Confusion when someone buys the better domain.

Logos for Workforce.com and Workforce Software

Workforce Software provides workforce management software using the domain name WorkforceSoftware.com.

For decades, the shorter Workforce.com domain was used by Workforce Magazine to deliver human resources news.

But last year, a competitor to Workforce Software acquired the publisher of Workforce Magazine. It then changed the use of Workforce.com from human resources news to promoting its own workforce management software, rebranded as Workforce.com.

Suddenly, Workforce Software had a big problem: confusion.

It didn’t have the best domain for its business, and now a competitor was using the best domain.

Workforce Software filed a cybersquatting complaint under UDRP against Workforce.com and lost.

The confusion is real. For about a minute while researching this case, I wondered if Workforce Software had acquired Workforce.com at the last minute. Take a look at their logos in the image. They both have lowercase logos with a blue icon in them. The icons are fairly similar but flipped.

This is not a case of cybersquatting, though. It’s another example of not owning the best domain for your company and having it come back to haunt you.

I usually tell people that if the better domain is currently in use in a non-confusing way, you’ll be OK registering the second-best domain. I urge caution when the best domain is just a parked page that might be sold to someone else.

But in this case, even though Workforce.com was being used in a non-infringing way, it was sold.

It reminds me of a similar issue a friend ran into. He registered a domain in the form exampleSoftware .com, just like this domain. Then someone bought example .com to market a sex toy. His friends called him up, saying they didn’t realize he had gotten into that business.

It will be interesting to see if Workforce Software takes this issue to the courts. While it’s not cybersquatting under UDRP, there might be a trademark issue. Then again, Workforce is a very generic word to use as a brand for workforce management software.

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