I'm debating on changing my startup's name. We provide online registration for events (for a specific industry type, not disclosing here). Our name already reflects what we do and I don't believe has hindered us in any way just yet but is pretty generic and I think a better name could make for better marketing of our startup. From surveys, everyone liked our idea for our new company name and thought it fit our company well and what we offer. Additionally it fits well with future services we're going to incorporate into our startup where our existing name is not bad but doesn't totally go with those future services. The main problem is that we can only get the .me domain name of the new company name we want. We've already registered that domain just in case we decide to use it. The .com is owned by another company related to our industry. They are not a competitor since they sell something totally unrelated to our services but to the same industry and same public/customers. So my thought it to partner with them offer free advertising of their products on our site (place a simple ad on very specific parts of our site) in exchange for them allowing us to place a link at the top of their site (in main navigation) to our site should someone go to their website (.com) instead of ours the .me. We have thousand of their potential customers viewing our site so I believe it would be worth it to them. Additionally, eventually I would like to buy them out down the road and sell their products as a secondary thing (& own their .com domain). I have not talked with the .com owners about all of this so don't know if they would be okay or not. Is this a good strategy or should we just look for another name or just keep the one we have? FYI, our customers (events organizers) link directly to our website from their website so participants can register for their event, so I'm not sure if the domain name is all that important. I don't image most people type in our domain name to register but we do see a small few do this via our analytics. In the future we're offering some additional services that are specifically for the participants (making them them more of our public/customers at that point too). Although participants do already pay us for registration for the events but the event organizer decides to use us for registration.
When push comes to shove, it is not about the domain at all. It is about the trademark... and he who owns the trademark wins legally. Doesn't even have to be same products or services - if they are in same industry they may be covered by same registered or even unregistered common law rights. And no one can register or own a generic name anyway. Get yourself a unique name and build your own brand, on a .com or .net or .org or .biz or soon .hotel or .travel or .xyz or .corp or .shop or .web.... all of these will be here within a year... so unless it is about you (me) don't go there.