Can I Buy the Capital Letters Version of a Domain if Someone Else Owns the Lowercase Variant?

And More Tips about Choosing a Domain

Can I Buy the Capital Letters Version of a Domain if Someone Else Owns the Lowercase Variant?

by Christopher Heng,

I was asked by a visitor whether he could "ask a registrar to sell [him] the all-capital-letters version of a domain name [if] someone else already owns the all-lowercase-letters version". Alternatively, he wondered if he could do it himself without the help of a registrar because the latter's "automated website blocked the attempted purchase".

Domain Names and Case

If you were to type "" into your web browser, you will end up at the same site as someone entering "". In fact, no matter what combination of capital and small (uppercase and lowercase) letters you type, like "" (etc), you will always end up at And if you were to repeat this test on any other website on the Internet, you will encounter the same situation, where a name with one or more capital letters always resolves to the same site as the one with small letters.

This does not mean that every webmaster in the world has spent a fortune buying up all the different-case combinations of their site's name. Like everyone else, when I bought my domain, I merely paid for the one with small letters.

The reason this works is that domain names are case insensitive. That is to say, the capitalization is ignored where domains are concerned. That's why the registrar blocked that attempted purchase of the uppercase version. As far as the domain name system is concerned, that name was already taken. It's not because the registrar's software didn't understand capital and small letters. It's because it did.

A Few Things to Look for When You Think about Domain Names

Let's step back a bit and think this through.

If a name like (say) "" is already owned by someone else, why would you want a domain called "GOOGLE.COM"? (Note: this is just an example. My visitor did not mention any specific domain when he wrote.) Trademarks aside, how would you even promote it? Are you going to say, "Go to the all-capital-letters version of Google for your shopping needs"? Really?

What about mobile phones that have no caps lock on their virtual keyboard? Which visitor is going to patiently type Shift, G, Shift, O, Shift, O, Shift, G, Shift, L, Shift, E (etc)? Again, I'm just using "Google" as an example. If the name is longer, the torture is even worse. Remember that mobile phones have miserably small keyboards, and you cannot use all 10 fingers to speed up typing the way you can on a desktop computer.

And then of course there is the trademark issue. The owners of the name are not going to take your attempt to usurp their trademark and reputation lying down. You will be mired in legal difficulties and have to spend your time and money dealing with them instead of happily working on your site.

All in all, there are many problems (a lot more than I briefly mentioned above) with the idea. In your eagerness to get the perfect domain name, don't overlook the real world:

And don't be fixated on a particular name. I addressed this type of issue before in my article on whether you should get a temporary domain name while waiting for your preferred one to expire. I also mentioned an alternative way of looking at the issue so that you don't get stuck thinking that only one name, and that alone, is the ideal name for your site.

The situation above (among others) is the reason I gave the steps in the order I did, in my article on How to Register a Domain Name, stating that you should go to a registrar already prepared with a few alternative names, in case the initial one you wanted is not available. Otherwise you may end up, like my visitor, desperately hoping to get a capital letters version of a name that is already taken. Or more likely (since you already know from this article that the latter is not possible), you may hastily come up with a name that you will regret later, since it was not completely thought through.

Other Questions and Answers on Domain Names

If you have other questions about domain names, take a look at my list of frequently asked questions on domains. Among other things, it contains other tips on choosing domains as well as things that webmasters-to-be often wonder about.

Otherwise, if you are ready to get on with your website, read How to Create a Website. Alternatively, if you are creating a blog, you may want to refer to How to Create a Blog instead (since it's specifically about making blogs). Or, if you are getting a domain just so that you can have your own unique email address, see How to Get a Domain Name for Email Only.

Copyright © 2019-2021 Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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