Advice on offline company's domain name

by Jassa 26 replies
Hello,

I would really appreciate some advice please - before I go into battle!

A friend of mine has had an offline business for quite some years - it is a business for small architectural antiques like pine doors, victorian fireplaces, reclaimed flooring etc.

Several years ago he paid - quite handsomely - for a small (and useless) website using his company name as the domain name ( www.bridalearchitecturalantiques.co.uk has been registered. ).

He stopped paying them after a year or two when he realised that he was not getting any work from the site.

This web design company have still got his domain name and are using it for advertisements - it will definitely get traffic because now even his name of 'bridale' is a keyword I noticed last year.

My question is: by law, are they able to keep and use this domain name?? - his company was running under that name long before the domain name was created

I would be really grateful for any advice on this. He is a simple country fellow and was easy bait for the sharks...

Thank you for your time
#main internet marketing discussion forum #advice #company #domain #offline
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  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    yes. They can keep it. He can sue them for it but he shouldn't bother.

    It sucks anyway. Really hard to type in and overlong. Most people cannot
    spell accurately when typing. He should get something shorter - a .com -
    promote it offline and use it to build a list of people he can inform of new
    arrivals.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jassa
      Many thanks for your reply!

      Yes, I know it's long, etc. etc., but the fact remains that many people in the area who know of him DO type in that domain name and DO go to that site.

      If he did sue them, is he likely to win ?? ...I can't think how the web design company can have a foot to stand on - they're using another persons company name, for god's sake !
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      "Life is a lot like jazz... it's best when you improvise" - George Gershwin
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  • Profile picture of the author jensrsa
    If his company was registered under that name before the domain was registered he can actually get it back but it may cost him more than it's worth - lawyers fees, costs the domain host may claim he owes, etc.

    I suggest that he investigates uk laws regarding cybersquatting to see how that applies, if only to get his trade name back.

    Jens
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    • Profile picture of the author Jassa
      Jensrsa, many thanks for this advice.
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      "Life is a lot like jazz... it's best when you improvise" - George Gershwin
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    • Profile picture of the author Kerry Finch
      If he wants to go in for a battle, he might have a case.

      Here in Australia, registering a business in a name gives you no claim over the corresponding domain name, but you can challenge its use by others if it closely matches you business name. In this case an exact match makes it easier. With the added ammunition of them not actually using the name for any real purpose (i.e. squatting on it), you have a real case. But if your friend is not going to use it (my assumption), then why bother? He in turn will be a cyber squatter if its not used.

      I acknowledge that you are aware of the awkwardness of the name, but if he's going to get a website up, I don't think its a good one - my 2 pennies. BridaleArchitectural.com is available, and a bit easier on the keypad/memory.

      Good luck!
      Kerry
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      • Profile picture of the author Jassa
        Well thank you for that good advice too!

        Yes, he IS going to use it - he has another site, using hyphens, but he knows that many people- don't know exactly how many - are going to the site ...and thinking it does not work any more.

        For years he has been going around with that name on the side of his van and many people do remember his name because he has such a fascinating shop!

        Anyway, I haven't even asked the design company yet if they will be willing to sell - I wanted to know roughly how things stand, law-wise and you have all been very helpful, thank you.
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        "Life is a lot like jazz... it's best when you improvise" - George Gershwin
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        • Profile picture of the author Kerry Finch
          If you use their design service, they might be happy to let you have it back?
          Kerry
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        • Profile picture of the author jensrsa
          Originally Posted by Jassa View Post

          Anyway, I haven't even asked the design company yet if they will be willing to sell - I wanted to know roughly how things stand, law-wise and you have all been very helpful, thank you.
          I see that Bridale Architectural Antiques is the Registrant (owner) of the domain.

          Talk to the design company and if he still owes them some money they should transfer the name after completing the necessary form and payment of the outstanding amount. Otherwise a lawyers letter demanding the transfer and all income earned from the domain might just do the trick.

          Jens
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          • Profile picture of the author Jassa
            Ah, you're an angel!

            Thank you sooo much for your help
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            "Life is a lot like jazz... it's best when you improvise" - George Gershwin
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            • Profile picture of the author Austin Delaney
              If memory serves, if the company who now own the domain can demonstrate that they have been using it (traffic stats etc) then it's theirs.

              If it's not a trademark but is a ltd company then your client would only have rights to the .ltd.uk - which is a separate tld.

              Best bet is to write to Nominet for clarification - Nominet UK
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              • Profile picture of the author Jassa
                It seems grossly unjust.

                He is in his 50's, is a 'small country town gentleman' who does not understand websites, computers etc. I know law is a funny thing, but I just don't see how the webdesign company can have a leg to stand on - if the law was fair, that is!!

                Anyway, tomorrow I will call the registrant of the domain to find out who actually has the rights to the domain name, because, as Jensrsa pointed out, the whois for uk says that it is registered to Bridale Architectural Antiques, with his business address.

                Again, thank you all very much for your input.
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                "Life is a lot like jazz... it's best when you improvise" - George Gershwin
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              • Profile picture of the author jensrsa
                Originally Posted by austind72 View Post

                If memory serves, if the company who now own the domain can demonstrate that they have been using it (traffic stats etc) then it's theirs.

                If it's not a trademark but is a ltd company then your client would only have rights to the .ltd.uk - which is a separate tld.

                Best bet is to write to Nominet for clarification - Nominet UK
                From Internet & E-commerce Law: Weblaw
                In England, cybersquatting has been outlawed by the courts since 1998 when One in a Million lost the right to use domain names such as marksandspencer.co.uk, sainsburys.co.uk and burgerking.co.uk which it had registered and subsequently tried to sell to those companies.
                From Internet & E-commerce Law: Weblaw
                If the registrant registered the domain name before you had established your operation or, at least your reputation, then it may be difficult to prove cybersquatting through the dispute resolution arbitration process. This is particularly so if the domain name in question is a .com, .net or .org as for such domains, you need to prove not only that the use of the domain is in bad faith but also that it was registered in bad faith. However, with a .co.uk, this is not so crucial as it is sufficient if the use is in bad faith irrespective of the intentions of the registrant at the time of registration.
                I do not believe the design company have any rights, unless the 'small country town gentleman' owes them money.

                Jens
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                • Profile picture of the author Jassa
                  Jens, you've given me some great ammunition - and I'm pretty sure he is 'all paid up' as well...

                  Many thanks - and goodnight.
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                  "Life is a lot like jazz... it's best when you improvise" - George Gershwin
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                • Profile picture of the author Austin Delaney
                  I advise speaking with Nominet first in case the holding company has all of the admin details pointing to one of their email addresses.

                  If they have then they can very quickly change the registrant at will and your client would no longer be listed as the current registrant.

                  In the many dealings my previous company had with Nominet we always found them to be very helpful.

                  Good luck
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                  • Profile picture of the author Richard Tunnah
                    Originally Posted by austind72 View Post

                    I advise speaking with Nominet first in case the holding company has all of the details pointing to one of their email addresses.

                    If they have then they can very quickly change the registrant at will and your client would no longer be listed as the current registrant.

                    In the many dealings my previous company had with Nominet we always found them to be very helpful.

                    Good luck
                    Sorry I've just repeated what you advised. Agreed nominet are really good.

                    Rich
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                    • Profile picture of the author Jassa
                      Even more great advice ...really want to thank you all

                      ...off to ring Nominet now.
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                      "Life is a lot like jazz... it's best when you improvise" - George Gershwin
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                      • Profile picture of the author Jassa
                        A quick update: I rung Nominet who said that if I had a problem I should ring them again and they would help, as Bridale did have the right to the domain.

                        Rung the registrar (?) and they said fine and they will send the login etc. - so it all looks good!

                        I really do appreciate all your good help. Thank you all once again!
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      • Profile picture of the author jensrsa
        Originally Posted by Kerry Finch View Post

        With the added ammunition of them not actually using the name for any real purpose (i.e. squatting on it), you have a real case. But if your friend is not going to use it (my assumption), then why bother? He in turn will be a cyber squatter if its not used.

        I acknowledge that you are aware of the awkwardness of the name, but if he's going to get a website up, I don't think its a good one - my 2 pennies. BridaleArchitectural.com is available, and a bit easier on the keypad/memory.

        Good luck!
        Kerry
        Cybersquatting is bad faith registration and use of a domain name that is identical with or confusingly similar to a trademark and service mark held by another person. Not merely the act of not using a domain name.

        Most countries uphold the registered owners rights and if not there is always the World Intellectual Property Organisation's (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center in Geneva

        Telstra Australia's case in 2000:
        Australia's first 'Cybersquatting' decision : News : The University of Melbourne
        and
        WIPO Domain Name Decision: D2007-1908

        But I agree that he should get an easier domain to use for a web site especially as he has an offline business and will be using the address in offline advertising, business cards etc.

        Jens
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        • Profile picture of the author Jassa
          Many thanks.

          The website designers WILL BE the 'rightful registered owners' simply because they came to him and offered him a website package with promises of more business ...da-dee, da-dum, etc. , and they bought his company domain name on his behalf as part of the package... so, yes, it is in their name but also yes, it is HIS company name...

          How does that affect things??
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          "Life is a lot like jazz... it's best when you improvise" - George Gershwin
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  • Profile picture of the author Dave777
    The good news is that Google really likes their other domain name with all the dashes (-)'s... So any customers that type in bridale architectural will almost land up on...
    Hello

    A little more work on their niche content, links and other related keywords will only help make things better, with or without the other domain name!

    And they've now got a free warrior link too...

    Dave
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    • Profile picture of the author davezan
      Without going into a lot of detail, Jassa, I'll just say this.

      Talk to a solicitor, especially if your friend is really adamant on trying to grab
      that domain name from his former hosting provider. Civil disputes aren't black
      and white always, which is what law experts are for.

      Otherwise, I agree with that it might be better to get a new and maybe short
      one.
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      David

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  • Profile picture of the author Richard Tunnah
    Originally Posted by Jassa View Post

    Hello,

    I would really appreciate some advice please - before I go into battle!

    A friend of mine has had an offline business for quite some years - it is a business for small architectural antiques like pine doors, victorian fireplaces, reclaimed flooring etc.

    Several years ago he paid - quite handsomely - for a small (and useless) website using his company name as the domain name ( www.bridalearchitecturalantiques.co.uk has been registered. ).

    He stopped paying them after a year or two when he realised that he was not getting any work from the site.

    This web design company have still got his domain name and are using it for advertisements - it will definitely get traffic because now even his name of 'bridale' is a keyword I noticed last year.

    My question is: by law, are they able to keep and use this domain name?? - his company was running under that name long before the domain name was created

    I would be really grateful for any advice on this. He is a simple country fellow and was easy bait for the sharks...

    Thank you for your time
    Hi Jassa,
    Difficult one to call this. The domain company probably have a clause that the domain belongs to them or reverts to them if you stop paying. However your friend may have a case against them for using a company name they don't own.
    I'd call nominet and chat with them. They are usually pretty good but unbiase. They have great power with .co.uk domains. In fact I've twice called hem and got .co.uk domains released after the registrar played silly with me.

    Rich
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  • Profile picture of the author jensrsa
    I am glad it seems to be working out OK

    Jens
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Lockwood
    I don't know what the law is, but when someone doesn't care enough to renew his domain name, he really doesn't have much right to complain about someone else using it, especially when he (probably) hasn't trademarked it.

    This is not cybersquatting.

    If I don't pay the taxes on my house, the government will eventually seize it and sell it, and I'd really have no right at that point to complain about someone else living there.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jassa
      His domain name has been, and still is paid until 2009
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      "Life is a lot like jazz... it's best when you improvise" - George Gershwin
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    • Profile picture of the author davezan
      Originally Posted by Chris Lockwood View Post

      I don't know what the law is, but when someone doesn't care enough to renew his domain name, he really doesn't have much right to complain about someone else using it, especially when he (probably) hasn't trademarked it.

      This is not cybersquatting.

      If I don't pay the taxes on my house, the government will eventually seize it and sell it, and I'd really have no right at that point to complain about someone else living there.
      Which is why I recommended Jassa to seek a solicitor. Let's just say there's a
      lot of details to cover, some of which I can guess on, but it's better for him to
      check with a licensed professional with real-world experience in his area.

      But...I see Jassa has made progress with Nominet and the registrar. Oh well,
      good to know, I guess.
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      David

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