2008.02.05

How to Retrieve a Stolen Domain Name

In this previous post, we discussed the increase in domain theft and stolen domain names.  Companies losing control of their domains face serious consequences, especially those who have an e-commerce component to their site.  Stolen domain names are becoming more frequent.  While the best approach is to prevent domain theft, many clients contact a lawyer only after the domain dispute has reached crisis level.  

Attorney Enrico Schaefer: "Traverse Legal's attorneys know how domain names are lost to partners, employees, web hosts and thrid-parties.  We also know how to cost-effectively retrieve stolen domain names which are critical to your business.  Because we are a boutique litigation law firm, we know how to strategically and efficiently accomplish our client's goals."

If you need assistance reclaiming a stolen domain name you may contact one of our attorneys for a no-risk evaluation or call 866.936.7447 (International Toll Free).

Recovering a stolen domain name typically involves several steps.  The first is to establish either contract or trademark rights in the domain.  If the company can establish that the domain name is protected by their trademark, a good domain name lawyer can leverage that trademark against any other third-party registrant.  Only the trademark holder is allowed to register a protected domain name.

If the third party controlling domain registration is, for instance, the web developer or web host, there may also be contract rights which control registrant status.  Some web developers and web hosts put language in their contracts with customers allowing them to register the companies trademarks in the web developer’s/host’s company name.  Our domain name lawyers strongly recommend that every company should control their trademark protected domains.  Never do business with a web developer or host that even suggests registration of the domain name in their own name.  A company must control the registrant login and information at the registrar level.  This means that the company itself must be listed as the registrant and the primary email contact must be a high level company employee.  The web host or web developer can, in some instances, legitimately be listed as the administrative contact. 

If a third party has contract rights as the registrant, the UDRP may not be a viable option for obtaining the domain.  However, liability may still exist under the ACPA and an appropriately worded threat letter demanding transfer of the domain is typically the approach used by lawyers in this situation.

Beyond a domain name threat letter threatening transfer under the UDRP or a liability under the ACPA, a domain name attorney may also recommend a federal or state court action seeking a court order that the domain be returned.  This is obviously a more costly remedy, but in circumstances where voluntary transfer does not occur remains the last line of defense. 

In some circumstances, a hacker breaks into the email account for the administrative contact or listed registrant of the domain name.  By taking control of the email account, a hacker can take control of the domain registration, change the DNS settings or even transfer the domain to another registrar.  This typically involves the most serious consequences with the most limited remedies.  Domain name and email hackers are often difficult to identify and even more difficult to locate.  In these instances, an In Rem proceeding under the ACPA in the jurisdiction where the registrar or registry (typically they’re assigned) are located can also result in a transfer order in your favor. 

COMMENTS

great info ..thanks for sharing this info really increase my knowledge ....keep on writing dude

We can help with stolen web sites and stolen domain names. Domain names are protected under trademark law. You don't have to have a registered trademark to have trademark rights. Contact our Michigan office and we'll be glad to learn more and provide a flat fee quote for our services.

I need to retrieve a domain name protected by trademark rights. Where do I start?

My web domain was stolen. Someone must have hacked my login info with the domain registrar. I do have trademark rights so can I get my web domain back?

Sometimes it cost money to get back stolen domain names. Whether you hire a domain dispute lawyer to help you depends on how bad you need the domain back. Ask yourself these questions.

1. How much business am I losing to diverted traffic?
2. Are my trademark rights being diluted?
3. Are my customers being confused or deceived?

Typically, you will earn whatever money you spend on a cybersquatting lawyer if you get your domain back. The only question is how long it take based on additional revenue. Don't forget that you could lose your trademark rights if you allow cybersquatters to sit on your rights.

The words "someone stole my domain name" are all too common. Domain theft is on the rise. Hacking and registrar manipulation are common methods used to steal domain names. You would rather avoid a domain dispute all together. Protect your URLs and you won't need to hire a domain lawyer.

Hi,
How do you prevent theft when it is the registrar that is doing the stealing? I lost a few domain names in the Registerfly meltdown. I was told that responsibility for Registerfly domains was taken over by godaddy. When I contacted godaddy they said that there was a tremendous backlog to work through. Still trying and still no information months later.
iPower is another registrar - actually a 3rd party registrar. They were "transitioning" to their new system so it was difficult to find out information about your domains. Your iPower managment screen doesn't relect your ownership. It may say expiration date is next year and you think you are ok but it doen't necessarily show YOUR expiration date but some other current owner. Thanks again for your information.

All the best,
Ted Sudol

I have an e-commerce domain name issues. What if the infringer sets up an e-commerce site on my domain name?

I had my domain name stolen by a hacker who got into my email account. Never got the domain back.

Given the large number of domain names out there, domain name violations seem to be a small portion of the whole.

Stealing internet names should be a crime. How is it different than stealing a car?

You can figure out who stole your domain name by checking the whois info at domaintools.com

The hijacking of domain names is becoming more common. Some call it cybersquatting or domain theft. Others call it domain piracy. Domain name hijacking is much more common than you think. It can happen to you.

There are, for all practical purposes, three venues appropriate for in rem proceedings under the ACPA (1) the location of the registrar, (2) Herndon, VA - the location of the .com registry, (3) Mountain View, CA - the offices of Verisign, the .com registry.

Wikis are great for online training because they encourage interaction. They probably works best when training is seamlessly integrated with day- to- day work. The wiki sets a direction for the workforce and raises the standard without the word‘ training’ even being mentioned.

How to retrieve my lost domain name? I have tried everything by the domain thief who stole my domain name won't respond to emails. I lost my domain name two months ago. I need to get it returned to me if possible. I think I am going to have to hire a domain name retrieval attorney ...

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