Traverse Legal's Enrico Schaefer featured on vTalkRadio.com. Here he explains how to protect your domain name and trademarks from theft or cybersquatting on the internet. ...
Today’s program is brought to you by the attorneys at Traverse Legal, PLC, a global law firm specializing in Internet law, Trademark infringement, Copyright Infringement, Cybersquatting, On-Line Defamation, Non-Compete & Trade Secret Law and Complex litigation. If you have a legal matter arising on the web, contact one of Traverse Legal’s internet lawyers today.
JOHN: Welcome to VTalk Radio Tech Spotlight. Sponsored by Traverse Legal, PLC . Today we are talking about protecting your domain name with Enrico Schaefer, specialist in technology and domain law. Good Morning, Enrico.
ENRICO: Good Morning, John. Thanks for having me today.
JOHN: I understand you have got some great tips to share with everybody about protecting their domain name?
ENRICO: Yeah I do, John. You know, people do not realize that their domains are always at risk. People register their domain name and they think, great, I own the domain. They put up a great website, they put up a merchant account, and before you know it, they're doing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of business through that website, they wake up one morning and their domain is gone. Their website is gone and they call me because they are in crisis wanting to know what they can do. What we often find, John, is that these people who've lost their website did so through their own negligence.
JOHN: What in the world could you do to lose your website after you've already registered it?
ENRICO: Well, people need to understand that they don't own their domain names. They register the domain and that domain is assigned to them to control for some period of time. People can register their domain for a year, they can register it for 10 years, but at some point your registration is going to expire. When your domain registration expires, you need to be able to re-register it. Let's take a look at some of the things you need to do in order to make sure your domain name remains under your control, secure from hackers, cybersquatters, pornosquatters, and adsite squatters, domainers, and other domain name leeches. The first thing you need to do is control your domain registration information. When you register your domain, you register it through a registrar and there are registrars out there who are licensed by ICANN - the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers - and ICANN is the one that controls who gets to be a registrar. There used to be just a couple of registrars, now there are literally thousands of registrars out there. So, when you go to that registrar's website and you register a domain, you give them a number of pieces of information - your name, your company name, your address, your phone number, your contact information - and the most important item is the email. You need to control the registrant information. You need to make sure it's listing you as the registrant, and registrant in this situation means you control it and that you are listed as the registrant; because registrant is what most people think of as owner. Many companies hire web developers or internet service providers to secure their domain name and develop their websites. I can not state this more strongly. You cannot let third parties, web developers or other technology people register your domain in their name because what happens a lot of the time is the web developer and/or developer's company registers your domain name, your company name, and list themselves as the registrant. You must control the information at the registrar level in order to control your domain name.
JOHN: Now how can you verify that you are in possession or you control this name?
ENRICO: You can do what's known as a Whois lookup. A Whois lookup is service that is provided by every registrar. There will be a link on your registrar's website that says Whois lookup and then you can look up your domain and it will show you what the register information is. You want to make sure it says you are the registrant. So, John, that's the first thing you need to do in order to protect your domain name.
JOHN: What's the next step you can do to accomplish this?
ENRICO: Well, the next thing you want to do is, not only make sure you are the registrant, but also make sure you have control of your domain account number, your log in name, and your password; the login information if you were to register your domain name, say, through Network Solutions. In other words you would have an account open for you and you would be able to log into the account. You'd want to use your classic login name and password. That gets you into your account, which allows you to control your domain name. You must control the account information and most importantly, make sure you are the only one who knows login information. If you let your web developer or your web developing company do that, and your web developing company goes out of business, you may loose profits or worse (like what happened just the other day with a company that called me which lost probably something in the range of $10,000 a week because they lost their domain name. They lost it because the web developer went AWOL and they have no way to access their account. The registrar isn't going to allow you into your account even if all the information points to you as the owner or as the registrant. The only thing they will let you do is log in. And if you can't control your username and password,or if you don't know it, then you can't log in. The other problem we see a lot is that they, even though you as the registrant once knew your username and password, that someone else has access to that and they go change the username and password. And when that happens, you can no longer log in. So, you gotta control your username and password, this is critical.
JOHN: What other tips can you give us Enrico to protect your domain name?
ENRICO: The third big tip we are gonna give you today is extremely important. It's a complaint we receive literally with dozens of calls we receive every week concerning people who have lost control of their domain. Many of these people and/or companies are losing a lot of money as a result. In a lot of circumstances it's because they didn't control their employee(s). So, our third tip is control your employee(s). What happens if the IT person leaves for another company? What if that IT person's email was the email that was used for the registrant information and you don't control that email address? So, control your internal employees because, if they leave under bad circumstances, you're gonna have a heck of a time regaining control of your password and your domain. The same is true of business partners. I just got off the phone a little while ago from a non-profit organization. There was a falling out between members, and the member that had registered the domain had listed their email address at the registrant level, and guess what? That person is holding the non-profit organization hostage because they control the email address. So, John, that's our third tip, control your employees and control your business partners.
JOHN: Today we are in the studio with Enrico Schaefer of Traverse Legal. We are talking about protecting your domain name. We're going to step aside for a moment for these important messages. We'll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: Today's program is brought to you by Traverse Legal, PLC, a law firm specializing in internet law, domain disputes, and technology company representation. That's Traverse Legal, PLC, www.traverselegal.com.
JOHN: Welcome back to VTalk Radio's Tech Spotlight. Today, we are in the studio with Enrico Schaefer of Traverse Legal. The topic today is protecting your domain name. Now Enrico, we've been talking about tips on how to protect your domain name.
ENRICO: Fourth tip is to make sure you lock your domain. Every registrar provides you the ability to lock your domain. If your domain is not locked, then the failure to respond to a registrar level email requesting a change to your registrant information is automatically approved. So, if someone wants to steal your domain name, what they can do is they can send an email to the registrar asking that the registrant information be changed to them or that the domain be moved to a different host. If your domain is not locked, and you don't respond to that email, they'll assume it's OK. By locking the domain, there will be no approval unless you specifically respond to that email. It's very important, John.
JOHN: What else should we be wary about on this idea of protecting your domain name?
ENRICO: Well, John, you raised this issue early on. Our fifth tip is to always check the Whois database to make sure you're listed as the registrant with the appropriate contact email information. You can find that information, as I noted before, through the registrar. There is also a website called www.internic.net/whois and you can always find the registrant information through that site. That's our fifth tip, John.
JOHN: What else can we think about when dealing with this particular subject?
ENRICO: Like every other area of the internet, beware of spam emails which pretend to be your registrar. I think we've all received the email from the guy in Timbuktu whose got $20 million sitting in an account and if we just simply forward him $10,000 he'll share that money with us 50/50. The same thing goes on with registrars. Because your information is often public, spammers and other marketers can get your information off the Whois database and then send you spam. Some of them will be sending you emails that effectively authorize them to take your email. So, be absolutely certain the email is in fact from your registrar. Don't respond to any suspicious emails.
JOHN: Yeah, I've received both of those kind of emails and have always been wary of that and have just deleted them.
ENRICO: You haven't received any money then, huh?
JOHN: (laughs) No, unfortunately not, and Bill Gates still hasn't sent me that $250 for going to his website either. I think it was passing on.
ENRICO: The seventh tip, John, is don't forget to renew your domain registration. Because people don't sometimes control their emails or they use a Hotmail account as their email contact which may expire without their knowledge, they may never receive the email notification from the registrar that their domain name registration is up for renewal. Basically, you want to register your domain name for a period of time. A lot of people register for a year. That means that a year from the date of registration, you may lose control if you forget to renew or you don't receive the email notice from the registrar. So, always make sure you are following and calendaring the registration expiration date. And make sure the email is correct so you receive the renewal notices. Try to register it, especially important domain names, for many years down the line. That way, you'll be protecting yourself from accidentally failing to re-register an expiring domain.
JOHN: These are some great tips you're giving us today, Enrico. Tell us what else can we do? Give us another tip here.
ENRICO: The eighth tip is to establish your domain as a trademark. Most of the people who have domain names are using their company name or some other product name as the domain URL. You want to have trademark rights there so when you start doing business as that product name, or as that company name, you'll have common law trademark rights. If you register your trademark with the USPTO or other foreign governments, you'll have super rights and you'll be able to have super leverage and you'll be in a great position to take that domain back from a cybersquatter, or, if someone typosquats on you by making a variation of your company name and putting that up as a website with, for instance, pornography links, your registered trademark is gonna be the number one tool you will use to stop that cybersquatter dead in their tracks. That's tip # 8, John.
JOHN: Very good information. What is tip # 9 today, Enrico?
ENRICO: Tip # 9 should be the most obvious tip of all. If you get in trouble, call an attorney. Many attorneys, such as Traverse Legal, are willing to help people out for free. Some people, however, need to retain us to get their domain names back, to bring a cybersquatting action under the Uniform Domain Name Resolution Policy (UDRP), but a lot of folks just need to be steered in the right direction. So, call an attorney who specializes in this area and they can help you secure your domain name, or if you lose your domain name, call an attorney who specializes in cybersquatting who can help you get that domain name back. So, John, those are our best tips based on the phone calls and emails we receive every day that deal with the protection of domain names.
JOHN: While we're at it, you said people can call you to ask questions. What's the phone number and a website address where people can reach you?
ENRICO: The name of our firm, John, is Traverse Legal. We are also sponsoring this show, but Traverse Legal is www.traverselegal.com. We can also be found at www.thetechnologylawyer.com and our telephone number is 866-936-7447.
JOHN: Any last tips for protecting my domain name?
ENRICO: The most important thing for people to understand is that they're investing a lot of time and money and driving a lot of revenue from their domain name. They need to act now to protect their domain name. Every day we get calls from folks who have lost their domains and there really is no good answer to their immediate problem. We could bring a proceeding, we could try to get the domain back, we're very successful at that, but it takes time. And every day that goes by, you're losing business. You need to be very proactive about protecting your domain name and put measures in place to ensure that you never have to call an attorney because a cybersquatter has grabbed your domain or a tech guy has run out the back door with your username and password.
JOHN: We would like to thank Enrico Schaefer of Traverse Legal for joining us today and talking about protecting your domain name. We appreciate these tips today, Enrico. Thanks for joining us.
ENRICO: Thanks, John, it was a pleasure being here.
JOHN: You are talking to VTalk Radio's Tech Spotlight. Thank you for joining us this afternoon.