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Domain Names Forum

Issues with ownership and 301
looking for advise on domain ownership changes

 9:37 am on Nov 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi, perhaps you can shed some light based on your experiences.
I was managing and promoting a domain for a relative's company for free. My relative had a partner and their company was closed some months ago, with an agreement to keep the site closed and the emails open for a couple of months. I deleted the site from the host (partner wouldn't agree to sell it so I could 301 to my relative's new site)These months, which were noted in their dissolvment contact, have passed.

This domain expired a few weeks ago, so I bought it myself and 301'ed to my relative's new site, for what's it worth.

My relative's partner, having seen this, went ballistic, but I claim that it's my domain now, even though it had belonged to him in the past and was his company's asset. Being mine, I use the domain for whatever purpose i see fit, even if it means that i'm redirecting traffic to my relative's company who is now a competitor.

Does this previous partner have any case against me or my relative? True, I've taken "advantage" of controlling the domain to know when it expires and buy it and then 301, but the partner's expectation to keep the site "closed" for all eternity is a little unrealistic, no? Anyway, he could have bought the domain if he wanted to, when it expired or even before. He only became aware of this after I 301'ed anyway.

any input you have will be appreciated.



 11:45 am on Nov 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

but the partner's expectation to keep the site "closed" for all eternity is a little unrealistic, no?

In my experience, some people will have that no matter what. But that mainly
arises from knowing, much more caring to understand, how these things work.

Absent violating any specific law like trademarks (and that's if they have one)
or any agreement, then highly unlikely. If your relative's partner is prepared to
make it an issue, be ready nonetheless.

IMHO, for whatever it's worth, s/he has no enforceable claim. Unless of course,
there's some "contractual" detail no one's aware of.



 1:23 pm on Nov 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks David.
There's no trademark involved here, and the contract between them talk of a "website" not a "domain". Since there is no "website" only a redirect to somewhere else - I think that's ok also.


 2:49 pm on Nov 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

Dr2k67 he really never owned the domain name in the first place all he did was "rent" it for a period of time. His rent expired you took over the building and did what you wanted to do with it.
Your fine and just to let ya know if you want to use the domain name for another website that would also be ok.


 3:21 pm on Nov 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks bwnbwn.


 4:28 pm on Nov 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

If you were acting as the domain owner's agent and did not inform him/her that the domain was expiring then that is not fine. In that case, you certainly acted unethically by not informing the owner of imminent expiry and a good lawyer might make a reasonable case against you.

For instance, if you were listed as the admin contact for a domain that I owned and you deliberately failed to pass on a renewal notice so that you could take ownership yourself, I would have you in court so fast your feet wouldn't touch the ground! I would expect to win and you would probably have to pay all my costs as well your own.



 5:14 pm on Nov 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks kaled.
But this site was deleted months prior to that. It's not as if this was a live/running website that was taken over. The request of the dissolved company was to close the website, almost a half year since. Do you interpret that as "delete the site and let us know when it's up for renewal so we can keep it closed?"
The legal entity who owned the domain no longer even exists - I have no contractual relation with my relative's partner either.
I see your point about passing on renewal notice, but I think in this case it would have been only courtesy, since I don't feel obliged to a non-existent company.
If the ex-partners do reach a signed agreement regarding the cost of keeping the domain closed for the long-term, I would be cooperative, but would also expect some compensation (fair enough?).

Has anyone ever managed a domain for a company that was closed and then renewed it and used it afterwards?



 11:27 am on Nov 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

The legal entity who owned the domain no longer even exists

That is of no importance. When a company is wound up, assets do not vanish - they are passed to creditors, former directors, etc. Someone owned that domain! As an absolute minimum, you should have notified the liquidator.

but the partner's expectation to keep the site "closed" for all eternity is a little unrealistic, no?

Actually, this expectation was totally realistic - he could have achieved it had you not stopped him!

Without knowing the exact details, it's impossible to be certain, but if the former owner hired a half-decent lawyer, I think you'd be in trouble.



 3:08 pm on Nov 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks again Kaled.
It's all a little vague - as my relative was the listed owner, and then me..
Anyway, reading keeping it closed forever - fine with me, but they should pay for it! They are not willing to even do that - only that the site remains closed.
I hope we can settle this politely without going to court over a redirect.
Thanks again for your input.


 10:25 pm on Dec 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Dr2k67 who's email was set up to be contacted in the register?


 5:34 am on Dec 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

It was my email, or my relative's personal email. I had bought the domain for my relative prior to the beginning of the partnership.
In their partnership contact they had stated that the website is their company's asset, which was fine with me at the time, as I was promoting the site for them.
After they closed, I closed the site as well, but I am making a distinction between the Website and Domain here. In my opinion, a 301 is not a "website".
what do you think?



 4:07 pm on Dec 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

It was my email, or my relative's personal email.
So the previous owner got notification the domain was up for renewal and decided not to opt for renewal of the domain. Is this correct?

 5:46 pm on Dec 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well, sort of. I was the previous owner, simply because I registered and managed the domain for them. So I knew it was up for renewal and I renewed it 2 days after it had expired - using my credit card and details etc.. also transfered it to my main hosting.

The point is, the previous owners of the domain had agreed in contract that the website will be closed. They did not mention in their agreement that keeping it closed means paying for its ownership in the long-run. Since they both have to take action to keep it closed, or be in breach of contract between them, I will offer them both to pay upfront for the domain ownership for the number of years they wish to keep it closed for, plus some reimbursement for my work. They are legally bound to take this action anyway, and since they had not taken care of renewing the domain themselves, i guess it is to their benefit that I am not their competitor and leave them an option to close it for good. what do you think?



 7:12 pm on Dec 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

2 days after it had expired
Actually they really had an additional 30 or so days (not really sure of the exact number off the top of my head) before it was deleted from the account and could be purchased or bid out in an auction.

The way you purchased the domain is like insider trading and could be an issue for you down the road.

what do you think
I think you've got yourself in a mess and really need to get out before it ends up really costing ya.
Give the domain name back to the owner forget the 8 bucks and move on.


 8:10 pm on Dec 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

You're right bwnbwn. I've just had a chat with an expert lawyer who said that "technically" I'm almost right, but the courts don't always look at what's right "technically" but rather at the whole situation and it's too messy indeed.
Next time I'll make sure that the domain ownership is not ambiguous in the contracts.

It's just really annoying to see years of good optimization go down the drain.

Thanks for the advise.

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