Domain Name Disputes Come In Many Flavors
Domain name disputes continue to become more common:
As an internet law attorney specializing in domain name issues, I am always struck by the wide variety of domain name issues which come through our law firm front door. While cybersquatting domain names and trademark issues have been around for a long time, our lawyers continue to see an increase in other types of domain name disputes. Many companies do a high percentage of their business on-line. Some companies do all of their business from the internet. Yet, few companies protect their domain name assets in a way that reflects the value of those assets to the company. Here are some of the different types of emails, telephone calls, and referrals which we see on a regular basis:
- My webmaster stole my domain name: Many domain disputes arise because the company puts their domain name in the hands of a third party such as a website developer, hosting company, or other third party. Through the passage of time or a falling out between the companies, the domain owner suddenly realizes that they do not have the registrant login information which controls their domain name.
- The employee who registered the domain name is fired: Our internet attorneys see this one all the time. The IT guy got canned nine months ago. The CEO comes into the office where a crisis is brewing. The web site is down. In fact, the domain name was never renewed because the IT email, which was used to register the domain name, was deactivated.
- Business partner domain disputes: Two friends decide to start an internet business. One friend registers the all-important domain name which matches the trademark. There’s a falling out between the business partners. The disgruntled business partner who finds themselves on the other side of the door controls the registrant account for the domain name and uses that as leverage to negotiate a severance package or other valuable item.
As a company, you want to avoid at all costs any domain name dispute. Your domain name is valuable property. You need to protect it from the get-go.