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Domain owned for 20 years company wants to buy it

     
10:34 pm on Oct 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I bought a domain name on a whim 20 years ago and never did much with it until about 15 years ago when my life partner decided to open a business. In his business (without giving specifics) he sells all types of items include "Acme XYZ" products. Realizing that I owned that domain I made a small landing page with a small description and a picture of ACME XYZ's products and a link that says "buy here" The domain name is 7 letters long.

Now the domain has been registered for 20 years, no adwords, no advertising on it so it's a clean site except for the link to my partners website. He probably makes 1k in sales possibly because of that link and he also has to take all sorts of tech support calls, which he answers and any warranty calls he gives them ACME XYZs phone number.

We got a call yesterday from ACME XYZ stating that they wanted the domain. One of the guys on the phone was a bit of a tool and made claims that they owned the name. So I looked it up and they have no trademark, they tried about 15yrs ago but were never granted a trademark. I should also state that their company is in a different state than we are.

There were a total of 3 men on the phone claiming to be partners in ACME XYZ, but after researching them and their names one of them is from a MUCH larger company. This other company (not a subsidiary or anything related) owns a variation of the domain name lets call it xx-xxxxx.com

Feeling sure that they would huff and puff and file some ridiculous lawsuit I offered to sell them the domain and for them to present me with an offer. So they did $400 I about laughed. I've had this domain registered and hosted for 20 years in a good neighborhood, that wouldn't even cover my costs much less the potential loss of sales from having it link to my partners site.

I'm wondering if they have any legal standing, they have no trademark, the site has never been for sale ever and they are in a different state than us.
What would be a reasonable offering for this site to them... I have no clue, but $400 is not going to get it.

Thanks in advance.
5:32 am on Oct 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Are you looking for a price or a killing?

That is:

1. What do YOU consider the reasonable value?

2. What reasonable value you can you extrapolate it might be worth to the other party?

3. Are you CERTAIN you have all rights to the name and can survive a trademark/infringement at the domain registry level?

As stated, the "value" of the domain appears to be $1000 / (week? month? year?). A two year to five year definition will show a reasonable period/value of the domain name ON YOUR SIDE. Know that and you can find a number you might accept (or reject).

I would not rely on 20 years to protect your claim. Then again, that might be the sweetener to any prospective sale.
2:41 pm on Oct 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I certainly didn't buy the domain to cash in, I have a use for it, but $400 isn't going to buy it from me.
It's like I own a racecar, i certainly don't drive it every day, but having someone offer me $400 because they do not think it is in good use is a bit of a slap in the face.

I did find it odd that although ACME XYZ was one of the people on the call, the other company that owns the xx-xxxx.com version of their site was also involved in the call although they did not disclose that at the time. I feel like these two companies are on the verge of a merger or one is purchasing the other. So they were deceptive about what's really going on here and the other company also is on the verge of having the SEC de-listing their stock. Perhaps some sort of corporate shell game or three card monty going on here.

If they plan on forcing it to be turned over that's going to cost them dearly in lawyer fees for sure, likely a minimum of 2500 but more like 10k for a good attorney.
If they had offered me 2500 I would have been fine with that, but now because of the way they spoke to me I'm going to dig in my heels.

Like I said, they have no trademark or copyright. It's as if acme pluming in North Dakota was fighting acme pluming in California. They didn't even incorporate their business until 2001. It did start around 1980, but went under and then came back around 1998, after I registered the domain.

Perhaps I should call them out about this other company being involved.
3:20 pm on Oct 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I know from experience, timing can be everything. If you used the name before them, it is not as if you bought it out from under them or in an attempt to deny them its use or hold it hostage. That said, trademarks are national with no regard to state boundaries. But if they did not succeed in registering it, that point is moot. And phone calls are not legally binding. If, however, you get an actual letter from a law firm, then you might want to consult an attorney.
3:55 pm on Oct 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Marshall, they have never had a trademark. Perhaps because I own the domain, I'm not sure.

Guess I should have been running ads on this site with content of course as the CPC is around $0.50, but it wasn't purchased for that reason and has never been used in bad faith so I guess I have that going for me.

Wondering if I should tip my hand and tell ACME XYZ that I know about the other company being involved.
4:48 pm on Oct 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Just because they don't have a trademark doesn't mean they won't try and bully an owner. I'm speaking from experience, and it all depends how deep the pockets are on both sides. Why pay a lawyer when there's an agreement: It saves money and time. I had a bullying letter arrive and a lawyer friend of mine gave me some free advice which meant that I ignored their lawyers letter and it eventually went through as a direct sale, but the money i got was perfectly satisfactory to me, and they had to pay their lawyer. Nobody likes a bully, eh! Well, perhaps a bully's mother. ;)

I just respond with an indication of the level of interest and put the ball in their court. I'd certainly pitch it higher than the original aim.
7:50 pm on Oct 5, 2017 (gmt 0)

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So they did $400 I about laughed.
$400? Seriously? Are you sure they didn't mean $400,000?

There were a total of 3 men on the phone
And none of the three claimed to be a lawyer, right? Let alone doing bona fide lawyer-stuff like sending you certified letters on company letterhead.

At this point you are dealing with the basic #*$! Tax. Think of the highest amount anyone would realistically, in their right mind, ever consider paying for the domain ... and double it. Heck, quadruple it.
9:04 pm on Oct 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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None of them were lawyers, I'm positive of that and nothing was said that could be held against me at all and when I started getting angry I walked out of the room and left them talking to my husband.

I'd love to think I hit the lottery, but that's not really realistic. I'm just not that lucky.
 

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