Contact the owner. Before so much as hinting at a price, simply email to ask whether or not the domain is for sale. If you are known or can clearly be linked to a thriving business, create a generic alternate email address through which to contact them, as your success might be leveraged against you. Be aware, however, that an informal-sounding email address is more likely to be regarded as spam or junk mail.
You should also avoid words that have more than one spelling if your visitors are likely to be confused and mistype the name. Alternately, you can buy both versions of the name and direct visitors from the one you like less to the preferred name. While you do want a short name (see below), don’t go for something so cryptic that people have a hard time remembering it. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool and you want to make it easy for people to tell their friends about your site.
Many online shops have the number 24 in them, to signify 24 hours a day – you may also be able to integrate numbers into your domain in a meaningful way to make them unique. Be careful though, because many cultures attach a lot of significance to certain numbers. Make sure that your number doesn't represent bad luck or other negative things in the country you're operating in.
If your purpose in buying a trademarked term as a domain name is to try to confuse people, you’re opening yourself up to having a complaint filed against you and having to give up the domain name. Even if you’re not trying to create confusion, you’re likely to face some legal challenges by buying trademarked terms in your domain name. To be safe, you can search for U.S. trademarks at www.uspto.gov and make sure no one owns a trademark on the name you are considering.
When looking up a bare name in DNS, the network stack will add the search domains to it to form fully qualified domain names, and look up those as well. For example, if the domain search list contains "wikipedia.org", typing "en" in the browser will direct the user to "en.wikipedia.org". Some ISPs add their own search domains via DHCP settings, similar to how they add DNS servers and other networking information; if this is undesired, the user can change this setting to ".local".