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Dependent on Your Website? Do You Know Who Owns the Domain Name?

A website domain name should be considered as important as (for example) a trademark or copyright.  It is imperative to the IP protection of a business that they have full control of their domain name.  It is common practice for marketing companies to develop a website for a business but in the terms and conditions, the marketing company retains the domain name.  This is unacceptable.

A good example of what can happen to a business if control of a domain name is taken away is set out below.  If you are a business and do not own/have full control of your domain name, then I advise you to immediately take steps to bring that domain name under your control.

Websites are the lifeblood of thousands of modern businesses so it is surprising how many of them do not know who owns their Internet domain names. In one case that highlighted the issue, a dry ski slope suffered serious disruption to its business when its website and emails were rendered inoperable.

The ski slope’s domain was registered in the name of a catering company that ran a café that formed part of the facility. Following the café’s closure, a financial dispute arose and the woman who owned the catering company demanded a substantial payment before she would part with the domain name.

When her demands were not met, the woman suspended the domain, with the result that the ski slope was locked out of its own website. Damage and disruption had been caused to its business after customers who tried to contact it by email received no response and were left thinking that they were being ignored.

The ski slope complained to Internet watchdog Nominet that the domain name was an abusive registration in the catering company’s hands. In upholding the complaint, Nominet found that the domain had been registered for the ski slope’s benefit and that there was no apparent justification for the woman’s financial demands. Her suspension of the domain as a means of applying pressure on the ski slope was close to an act of blackmail. Nominet directed that the disputed domain name be transferred to the ski slope.

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