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Imagine this hypothetical situation:

My parents have been trying to build a new home for some time and around 2016 they got involved with an architect/builder (let's call him Fred Fraud) who at the time was also the local distributor for a large American company (let's call them Buildeeblox) who manufacture a type of building product which is still relatively new in the UK.

Having designed our new home (pro bono) Fred then invoiced my parents in July last year and they paid him over £50k for the building materials so they would arrive well in advance of work being able to commence.

A year later it would appear the reason this architect has been deliberately dragging out and delaying our project as much as possible is that he doesn't have the materials that we paid for and is now ignoring all communication. Buildeeblox has since cut all business ties with Fred and are effectively washing their hands of him saying that we are on our own as their distributors are all independent parties.

So, aside from doing the expected things such as preparing a court case (which may be a pointless exercise as we paid our monies to Fred's ltd company which doesn't have much in the way of assets) and speaking to ActionFraud, I intend to document this entire sorry saga online and get it as wide an audience as possible, A) as a naming and shaming exercise, and B) for the benefit of anyone else who may end up giving these people money.

I haven't approached any newspapers just yet but will do when I know what direction this ends up going. I have also scraped Fred's twitter contacts, Facebook friends and both parties LinkedIn groups so I can spam them later.

I was planning to buy the following domains (again, these are aliases);

  • mybuildeebloxexperience.com
  • myfredfraudexperience.co.uk

My question is what are the implications of owning a domain that in the former contains the manufacturer's own trademarked business name and in the latter contains the architect's full name? Although my website would be recounting our personal experiences with both parties, would either of them have the right to issue a takedown notice to my hosting provider or worse?

I intend to keep the sites as factual as possible, ensuring to stay on the right side of GDPR and avoiding anything that opens me up to libel.

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Since you are not using these to sell anything, or engage in trade in any way, there is no trademark issue. You may use trademarks to refer to or comment on the trademarked product/service or its provider, as long as you don't exploit or benefit from its reputation, or induce consumer confusion that you are affiliated.

But there could easily be a defamation issue. Any statement that you make that appears to be factual (as opposed to a statement of opinion) that the subject claims is false or misleading could be the basis of a defamation claim (libel most likely). Defending such a claim, even if you are in the right and all your statements are true, can be very expensive. In the UK it is less common for you to be awarded your costs even if you win than it is in the US, but it is never automatic. Care and perhaps legal advice are very much needed in such a case.

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  • Particularly as it would appear that fault, if any, doesn’t lie with buildeeblox.
    – Dale M
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 20:11
  • @Dale M I suppose it could be alleged that buildeeblox was negligent in enrolling Fred Fraud as a dealer, or in not dismissing him sooner, or perhaps contributed to the problem in some other way. Without the full facts of the case, who knows what faults might be alleged. Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 20:48

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