Having an LLC but someone else owns your domain name

40 replies
I am about to file an LLC in California for my business name, but someone already owns my domain name. The domain has never had hosting or been used before- it is about 10 years old. How would one go about getting this domain legally, since I would actually have a registered business as that name, which they do not have? Obviously I am going to try to buy it, but I KNOW they will try to extort me for as much as possible.
#domain #llc #owns
  • Profile picture of the author scottgallagher
    you can't get it legally, you don't own and will never own the rights to that domain unless you make a deal with the domain holder....or the domain holder does NOT renew, which they still have 90 days to recover.

    -Use a domain tracker for this domain. It'll let you know when it's free. (GoDaddy has a tool)
    -Check the domain history with the Internet Archives. Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine
    -Value the domain at Free domain name appraisals - Valuate.com
    -Contact domain holder directly. Chances are they are a domain investment firm holding the attractive domain hostage. While they have paid $15 a year to own the domain, likely have not sold it in 10 years. Just nonchelontly ask questions about the domain and if it's available. The price is always negotiable....they will trying to get the most they can and gauge your interest level.
    -Finally plan for Plan B. Domain spelling and combinations aren't important like they used to be.
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    • Profile picture of the author aharrold
      Originally Posted by scottgallagher View Post

      you can't get it legally, you don't own and will never own the rights to that domain unless you make a deal with the domain holder....or the domain holder does NOT renew, which they still have 90 days to recover.

      -Use a domain tracker for this domain. It'll let you know when it's free. (GoDaddy has a tool)
      -Check the domain history with the Internet Archives. Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine
      -Value the domain at Free domain name appraisals - Valuate.com
      -Contact domain holder directly. Chances are they are a domain investment firm holding the attractive domain hostage. While they have paid $15 a year to own the domain, likely have not sold it in 10 years. Just nonchelontly ask questions about the domain and if it's available. The price is always negotiable....they will trying to get the most they can and gauge your interest level.
      -Finally plan for Plan B. Domain spelling and combinations aren't important like they used to be.
      I know what you are saying here and you are right (I think) but I feel legally someone shouldn't be able to keep a domain name if someone else has a legal registered business with the same name. I think I feel this way because I am on my side of the situation, whereas if I was on their side I would feel entitled for compensation on the domain- by the way the appraisal came back at $0 lol.
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      • Profile picture of the author Kingfish85
        Originally Posted by aharrold View Post

        I know what you are saying here and you are right (I think) but I feel legally someone shouldn't be able to keep a domain name if someone else has a legal registered business with the same name. I think I feel this way because I am on my side of the situation, whereas if I was on their side I would feel entitled for compensation on the domain- by the way the appraisal came back at $0 lol.
        You may want to get in touch with an intellectual property attorney. If you're registering a business, you should already have an attorney..
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        • Profile picture of the author aharrold
          Originally Posted by Kingfish85 View Post

          You may want to get in touch with an intellectual property attorney. If you're registering a business, you should already have an attorney..
          Lol my girlfriend works for one of the largest IP firms in the nation.
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          • Profile picture of the author mojo1
            Like another poster mentioned, you could always approach the seller directly. Here is a really great domain industry resource site: DomainSherpa: The Domain Name Authority

            Ultimately, you really should tread cautiously. Be prepared to pay in one way or another.

            You do not want to end up here; Companies Found GUILTY of REVERSE DOMAIN NAME HIJACKING! SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! if you're on the losing end should you decide to do battle.
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            • Profile picture of the author aharrold
              Originally Posted by mojo1 View Post

              Like another poster mentioned, you could always approach the seller directly. Here is a really great domain industry resource site: DomainSherpa: The Domain Name Authority

              Ultimately, you really should tread cautiously. Be prepared to pay in one way or another.

              You do not want to end up here; Companies Found GUILTY of REVERSE DOMAIN NAME HIJACKING! SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! if you're on the losing end should you decide to do battle.
              Again, I don't mind paying them for the domain, but if they try to extort me knowing it's my business name, I will want to take legal action. The domain is valued at $0 (minus the cost of them keeping the domain for so long) so if they say "yeah, it's yours for 20k" I am going after them. I want to pay a FAIR price for the domain, but nothing overboard.
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              • Profile picture of the author Kingfish85
                Originally Posted by aharrold View Post

                Again, I don't mind paying them for the domain, but if they try to extort me knowing it's my business name, I will want to take legal action. The domain is valued at $0 (minus the cost of them keeping the domain for so long) so if they say "yeah, it's yours for 20k" I am going after them. I want to pay a FAIR price for the domain, but nothing overboard.
                BUT, here's the thing:

                Originally Posted by aharrold View Post

                I am about to file an LLC in California for my business name
                Meaning, you're not a legal business therefor, you're not entitled to anything. First, register your business, then, consult with an attorney. This forum is not the place you want to get legal advice from on anything unfortunately....everyone is an armchair lawyer quoting hearsay....
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                • Profile picture of the author aharrold
                  Originally Posted by Kingfish85 View Post

                  BUT, here's the thing:



                  Meaning, you're not a legal business therefor, you're not entitled to anything. First, register your business, then, consult with an attorney. This forum is not the place you want to get legal advice from on anything unfortunately....everyone is an armchair lawyer quoting hearsay....
                  One of the smartest things you can do before registering a legal business entity is checking if the domain name is taken; that is why this is an issue in the first place. For everyone else, NO I am not planning on a lawsuit and I HAVE contacted the owner, I am just preparing for the worst here- no need to flame. My main objection would be if they tried to get an off-the-wall amount for the domain name- i.e. 10k plus. My issue is when people buy business oriented domain names to just squat on them hoping for a big pay day (without forming an actual legal business entity) it's BS in my humble opinion and should be illegal.
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                  • Profile picture of the author Kingfish85
                    Originally Posted by aharrold View Post

                    One of the smartest things you can do before registering a legal business entity is checking if the domain name is taken; that is why this is an issue in the first place. For everyone else, NO I am not planning on a lawsuit and I HAVE contacted the owner, I am just preparing for the worst here- no need to flame. My main objection would be if they tried to get an off-the-wall amount for the domain name- i.e. 10k plus. My issue is when people buy business oriented domain names to just squat on them hoping for a big pay day (without forming an actual legal business entity) it's BS in my humble opinion and should be illegal.
                    But, since you're not a legally registered business, you don't have a leg to stand on no matter what. If Jims Coffee Shop Inc down the street decided today that they wanted a website & found out someone had jimscoffeeshop.com and was not using it for a business, this becomes an intellectual property case. Can you just up & take it? No. Do you have more leverage legally? Yes.
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                  • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
                    Originally Posted by aharrold View Post

                    My issue is when people buy business oriented domain names to just squat on them hoping for a big pay day (without forming an actual legal business entity) it's BS in my humble opinion and should be illegal.
                    How dare an entrepreneur with forward vision invest their own money with a view to turning a profit.
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                  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
                    Banned
                    Originally Posted by aharrold View Post

                    ...My issue is when people buy business oriented domain names to just squat on them hoping for a big pay day (without forming an actual legal business entity) it's BS in my humble opinion and should be illegal.
                    Yeah, definitely, Congress should get right on making laws telling us what domains we can and can't buy :rolleyes:

                    Then they should go after people who invest in real estate, baseball cards, artwork, collectibles of any kind ... oh hell, why not just make a law about toilet paper too?
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              • Profile picture of the author isosales
                Originally Posted by aharrold View Post

                Again, I don't mind paying them for the domain, but if they try to extort me knowing it's my business name, I will want to take legal action. The domain is valued at $0 (minus the cost of them keeping the domain for so long) so if they say "yeah, it's yours for 20k" I am going after them. I want to pay a FAIR price for the domain, but nothing overboard.
                This sounds like you want them to give you the domain name for next to nothing and it sounds like you want them to think they will be doing themselves a favor by doing so.

                I wouldn't negotiate with someone if they came to the table with this attitude.

                I understand where you are coming from, I just think your approach is off and you should step back and rethink things if you are really going to try and make a deal.
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              • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
                Originally Posted by aharrold View Post

                Again, I don't mind paying them for the domain, but if they try to extort me knowing it's my business name, I will want to take legal action. The domain is valued at $0 (minus the cost of them keeping the domain for so long) so if they say "yeah, it's yours for 20k" I am going after them. I want to pay a FAIR price for the domain, but nothing overboard.
                What? A business name isn't enough to go after them. The most you can hope for is trademark infringement if they put something up related to your business after you get a trademark. That's a losing battle... and you likely won't get the domain either, just financial losses due to the trademark being violated.
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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Originally Posted by aharrold View Post

        I know what you are saying here and you are right (I think) but I feel legally someone shouldn't be able to keep a domain name if someone else has a legal registered business with the same name. I think I feel this way because I am on my side of the situation, whereas if I was on their side I would feel entitled for compensation on the domain- by the way the appraisal came back at $0 lol.
        I'm sorry, but I think it's funny that you think you can get someone already in business, to give you their domain name because you decided to name your business the same as their name.

        You know, you could have just looked up the domain name to see if it was available.
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        • Profile picture of the author aharrold
          Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

          I'm sorry, but I think it's funny that you think you can get someone already in business, to give you their domain name because you decided to name your business the same as their name.

          You know, you could have just looked up the domain name to see if it was available.
          If you read the post they are not in business and there is no one using this name for ANY type of business. If you google the business name the search result is null- this guy is just sitting on the domain.
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          • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
            Originally Posted by aharrold View Post

            If you read the post they are not in business and there is no one using this name for ANY type of business. If you google the business name the search result is null- this guy is just sitting on the domain.
            My mistake.
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  • Profile picture of the author chg
    Best advice... use a domain broker to begin an acquisition of the domain. Anything is available, at a price
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Gordon
    Intent plays a role in cybersquatting. If you have not registered the business name, but they already own the domain, they are not cybersquatters.

    If anything, you are the one who is contemplating something unethical.

    Take the advice you have already been given. Contact the owners and inquire about a price. If they want a lot for it, too bad. They have the right to ask whatever they wish, or to not sell it at all.

    You, on the other hand, have no rights at this point where that domain is concerned. Only opportunity. So ask. Either they will give you a fair price or they won't. You can negotiate or not. You will eventually acquire it or you won't.

    If not, there are a lot of other fish in the sea. Be creative.

    By the way, online domain value tools are worthless. That domain is worth exactly what you or someone else is willing to pay for it. Not a penny more, not a penny less.

    One thing you should not do is start throwing legal threats at them. You are not a lawyer, and that is a sure way to make them less cooperative - not more.

    Good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Gordon
    That's the thing though. Unfortunately for you, the very fact that you are interested in it drives up the value for them. That is how the domain speculation business works.

    If they are looking for more than you are willing to pay, just be honest with them about your ceiling. They'll either work with you or not, but it won't help to waste each others time.

    While it isn't your first choice, there are ways to split the baby here. Like adding prefixes (thedomain.com, bestdomain.com, etc) or suffixes (domaininc.com, domainchoice.com, domainland.com)

    And, of course, there are other domain extensions. But I wouldn't start a business if you can't get the .com

    I have paid up to $4k before for the perfect .com, so I know it can be tough. But it is also an investment in your business, and if it is good enough, it can retain that value or even grow in value.

    My best advice is to not obsess over any one domain. Try to get it, but if it just isn't going to happen work on plan B. Then plan C. If necessary, have plans D and E as well. Eventually, you'll get one that works for you.
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    • Profile picture of the author aharrold
      Originally Posted by Jack Gordon View Post

      That's the thing though. Unfortunately for you, the very fact that you are interested in it drives up the value for them. That is how the domain speculation business works.

      If they are looking for more than you are willing to pay, just be honest with them about your ceiling. They'll either work with you or not, but it won't help to waste each others time.

      While it isn't your first choice, there are ways to split the baby here. Like adding prefixes (thedomain.com, bestdomain.com, etc) or suffixes (domaininc.com, domainchoice.com, domainland.com)

      And, of course, there are other domain extensions. But I wouldn't start a business if you can't get the .com

      I have paid up to $4k before for the perfect .com, so I know it can be tough. But it is also an investment in your business, and if it is good enough, it can retain that value or even grow in value.

      My best advice is to not obsess over any one domain. Try to get it, but if it just isn't going to happen work on plan B. Then plan C. If necessary, have plans D and E as well. Eventually, you'll get one that works for you.
      Thanks for an actual constructive and positive post, it is very rare to find that on this forum!
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  • Profile picture of the author vndnbrgj
    If you're a big company with big pockets... you can get anything.

    I am not a lawyer.... but let's roll with this scenario a minute.
    You want to register a business in the state of CA for Mike's Plumbing....
    Someone already owns this domain name, so you want to know if you have a right to it....
    Are you with me so far?

    Great

    So, you buy the domain name.
    Now, I want to open Mike's Plumbing in the state of MI.
    Which, legally I can.
    Now, I want the domain name.
    After all, I am a licensed business in my state.
    Can I come after you for it?
    Now, someone else opens Mike's Plumbing in FL, AK, ME, ID, wherever... can they take it from me?

    Here's the deal... You aren't entitled to sh!t. You have no grounds to legally get sh!t.
    Your best bet is to:
    1. Work out a deal with the owner
    2. Buy a different extension... (.org, .net, .co, etc)
    3. Add a variable
    MikesPlumbingServices.com
    MikesPlumbingCA.com
    BestPlumberInCA.com
    BestCAPlumber.com
    MikeTheCAPlumber.com


    .................................................. ..............
    Food for thought:
    1. I think of a name.
    2. Check domain name availability
    3. Check online for similar names
    4. Check state records for availability
    5. Buy domain name
    6. Register with state and feds

    In that order
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  • Profile picture of the author umc
    You keep saying that you feel it is should be illegal, but obviously nobody cares about that because it isn't. It does suck, for sure, but them's the breaks. Is there no way to get a little creative and buy something close enough that conveys what you want to by adding something before or after the exact name you want?
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  • Profile picture of the author aharrold
    Good debate, but I think that if a business trademarked their name they should be entitled to the domain name. Again, this is my opinion, people shouldn't be purposefully buying domain names with the intent to sell when it comes to business names at least. I feel there needs to be more regulation and it undermines how our government operates. It is clear that a domain name is much more than just a "website name" these days. If you aren't going to sack up and register a business and are just buying domain names to extort businesses..... well you know my opinion on that. I once thought of looking at rising middle school basketball players and buying their domain names if they go pro, but did I do it? No, because only a jackass would do something like that
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    • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
      Originally Posted by aharrold View Post

      Good debate, but I think that if a business trademarked their name they should be entitled to the domain name. Again, this is my opinion, people shouldn't be purposefully buying domain names with the intent to sell when it comes to business names at least. I feel there needs to be more regulation and it undermines how our government operates. It is clear that a domain name is much more than just a "website name" these days. If you aren't going to sack up and register a business and are just buying domain names to extort businesses..... well you know my opinion on that. I once thought of looking at rising middle school basketball players and buying their domain names if they go pro, but did I do it? No, because only a jackass would do something like that
      Well you have to understand that a trademark is much more than a business name. You can incorporate and file a franchise in every single state but that isn't a trademark. A trademark can be filed only under certain catagories and that doesn't prevent someone from using the domain name, they still can. The only case you would have is if your trademark was being violated, and costing you business but the burden of proof would be on you and if 20k is too expensive, then fighting it wouldn't be an option.

      I understand that it can be frustrating, but its the way things are and will be for a while.

      Awesome idea for basketball, but the better option would be AAA baseball players...
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    • Profile picture of the author SirThomas
      Originally Posted by aharrold View Post

      Good debate, but I think that if a business trademarked their name they should be entitled to the domain name.
      Using this logic, if nobody ever trademarked "dental implants" or "injury attorney", you could do it today and demand domain names from people who currently own them... lol

      The trick to trademarking is to be FIRST who gets a given term. :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author JimmyB
    Do the next best thing put a - in the domain name.
    Or pick up .net or .US
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    • Profile picture of the author aharrold
      Originally Posted by JimmyB View Post

      Do the next best thing put a - in the domain name.
      Or pick up .net or .US
      These guys took both the regular domain and "-" lol. I hope you all can understand the frustration of this, if I was in the domain owners positions I would probably have a different opinion.
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      • Profile picture of the author umc
        I understand. I've had lots of ideas that were taken. It happens. But instead of getting frustrated and posting on here when you have no recourse, as if any of us can do anything about it, why not post the name you want and see if anyone has any suggestions as to alternatives you could consider? At least then this could be productive.
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  • Profile picture of the author bizgrower
    They set up the domain name ten years ago.

    They are first.

    It could be pure coincidence that it's the same as the business name you have chosen now - ten years later.

    Seems to me they could have some rights over you. Have they filed any TM or copyrights?

    Also, it seems to me it would be tough to prove their intent. Are they domain squatting, or is it a business idea they have not pursued yet? (I have several domain names I never did anything with - yet.)


    Anyway, it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

    Dan
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  • Profile picture of the author aharrold
    After deliberating about it a bit more and going outside of my own ego, I think the option is to negotiate with the current owners. As Dan said above they did buy the domain 10 years ago and it is what it is. If my business ever got big enough to where this was an issue it would be the least of my worries. I will try and add something to the domain and make it creative, thanks for letting me vent warriors lol.
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    Originally Posted by aharrold View Post

    I am about to file an LLC in California for my business name, but someone already owns my domain name. The domain has never had hosting or been used before- it is about 10 years old. How would one go about getting this domain legally, since I would actually have a registered business as that name, which they do not have? Obviously I am going to try to buy it, but I KNOW they will try to extort me for as much as possible.
    How is this extortion? They owned this domain for 10 years. It is theirs, not yours. You don't have to use a domain to own it and you cannot take it away from them. You don't own a trademark on the name, obviously and you decided to name your company even after knowing that the domain is not available. Make them an offer for their property. That's all you can do.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    Honestly your a fraggin idiot for not checking to see if the domain name was available BEFORE deciding upon a company name.

    There, I said it cause no one else did.
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    • Profile picture of the author aharrold
      Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

      Honestly your a fraggin idiot for not checking to see if the domain name was available BEFORE deciding upon a company name.

      There, I said it cause no one else did.
      Actually I did check, but it is not a registered business ANYWHERE. Read all the posts I have made and then put in your two cents.
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      • Profile picture of the author Mark Singletary
        Originally Posted by aharrold View Post

        Actually I did check, but it is not a registered business ANYWHERE. Read all the posts I have made and then put in your two cents.
        So you say that it should be illegal if someone that buys a domain name but doesn't register a business to go with it. How is that different than what you have done: you knew the domain was taken and now want to register a business for profit and use the domain name of someone else's. Doesn't the same logic apply? I think it should be illegal for people to register businesses just for the purpose of stealing someone's domain name.

        Did you check all the business registrations internationally too? Or just the USA? Either way it doesn't matter but the fact that you say they aren't registered ANYWHERE shows more emotion than logic in your thinking in this whole process.

        I've got a couple domain names that are many years old that I will never sell and it may be a while before I use them. In my case I can assure you that I never bought those domain names for the purpose of stealing someone's business opportunities or anything of the sort. I bought them because I liked them and thought that I would use them sooner or later but then plans change, life gets in the way, etc. Selling them was never considered when I bought them.

        I understand - starting a business has certain emotions tied to it but you are seriously making a mountain out of a mole hill and holding up your chance of success.

        Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author globalpro
    Short of playing nice and seeing if the owner will sell domain, you don't have any recourse. When you register an LLC in one state, it doesn't mean someone can't register that LLC name in another state. Each state is different/separate entity, and that's a separate issue from a website domain.

    Since the domain is 10 years old, 'cybersquatting' can't even be considered, even if it's a parked page.

    I ran into a similar situation when I filed an LLC in Florida (where I live). I did run a domain search first, found domains already up, changed LLC name a bit, then found one that was available. Grabbed it then carried on from there.

    Would it be possible to adjust your LLC name a bit? I started with a name I would be able to 'brand', then worked through variations, i.e. media, interactive, publishing, etc.

    Just a thought.
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    • Profile picture of the author aharrold
      Originally Posted by globalpro View Post

      Short of playing nice and seeing if the owner will sell domain, you don't have any recourse. When you register an LLC in one state, it doesn't mean someone can't register that LLC name in another state. Each state is different/separate entity, and that's a separate issue from a website domain.

      Since the domain is 10 years old, 'cybersquatting' can't even be considered, even if it's a parked page.

      I ran into a similar situation when I filed an LLC in Florida (where I live). I did run a domain search first, found domains already up, changed LLC name a bit, then found one that was available. Grabbed it then carried on from there.

      Would it be possible to adjust your LLC name a bit? I started with a name I would be able to 'brand', then worked through variations, i.e. media, interactive, publishing, etc.

      Just a thought.
      Yeah, great suggestion, I think I just need to be more creative on the domain name.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jason_V
      Originally Posted by globalpro View Post

      Short of playing nice and seeing if the owner will sell domain, you don't have any recourse. When you register an LLC in one state, it doesn't mean someone can't register that LLC name in another state. Each state is different/separate entity, and that's a separate issue from a website domain.

      Since the domain is 10 years old, 'cybersquatting' can't even be considered, even if it's a parked page.

      I ran into a similar situation when I filed an LLC in Florida (where I live). I did run a domain search first, found domains already up, changed LLC name a bit, then found one that was available. Grabbed it then carried on from there.

      Would it be possible to adjust your LLC name a bit? I started with a name I would be able to 'brand', then worked through variations, i.e. media, interactive, publishing, etc.

      Just a thought.
      Finally, someone who knows what the hell they're talking about. My family has an LLC, and as he said, it's based on state. Our attorney had to do a search to make sure no one else had that name registered in our state as an LLC. We actually had to drop a word in our name because someone else in our state already had that LLC.

      Guess what? There are businesses with the same business name as ours in other states that are also LLC's.

      We got lucky in that none of them registered the domain name.

      You don't even have to try to get that domain name, you can have it as [yourbusinessnameLLCYourStateAbbrev]

      So, if you're in let's say Georgia you could register the domain name:

      yourbusinessnameLLCGA.com

      Now, if someone has that domain name after you register the LLC, now you're talking about possibly being able to obtain it from them, but note that taking a domain name is a lengthy and expensive process.

      This is why a lot of big corporations that technically could "take by force" domain names from people, they generally offer them around $100-$200 because that's easier to do, than going to court. Most people, when they see legal letterhead will just give it up for that price. They know that they wouldn't have a shot in court and they may as well take the free money.

      A domain name like that better geotargets you for local business anyway.
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      "When you do something exactly wrong, you always turn up something."
      -Andy Warhol
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  • Profile picture of the author blankdcv
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    • Profile picture of the author aharrold
      Originally Posted by blankdcv View Post

      whats done is done and we should just move on



      Yes, this thread is pointless until I take more action; thank you everyone for your input.
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