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Domain name registered by third party

Problems with domain transfer by absent web designer



10:57 am on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

In Sept/Oct 2004 I commissioned a web designer to build my website. He purchased two domain names on my behalf which I have subsequently discovered he has locked to him so they cannot be transferred. He was paid for that work including, and specifically, for the purchase of the domains. A year ago we commissioned another designer to carry out some development on the site.

I have requested the designer to transfer the domain names to me so that I donít miss the renewal, and because they are actually mine since I specifically paid for them. However he has not responded.

I have approached the registrar for the uk domain but they suggested snatching it back when it becomes due for renewal - a tactic that does not instill confidence as I am well aware that my competitors have a very aggressive stance and will undoubtedly be watching the developments themselves. I have invested a great deal of money building up a presence and feel infuriated at the risk associated for the sake of a combined $20 renewal fee.

Can anyone help on my course of action? I do not wish to take a legal course but perhaps....


11:05 am on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Try to get your old web designer on phone and request him. May be he will accept this time. If not, go for a legal action.

Domains are virtual real estates and Why you people allow others to register them?


5:21 pm on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Unfortunately, this is a very common mistake.

People don't understand the value of a domain name and the importance of making sure you have control of your own domain name. And sometimes they are intimidated by the technical aspects of it.

And, so they allow others - web designers, programmers, web hosting companies - to register domains for them.

In some cases, they failed to read the fine print and, unfortunately, they really have no right to the domain they thought was theirs.

In other cases, they have a right to it, but they've put themselves in an awkward position where they now have to find the person it's registered to and get them to change the registrant information.

Please - register your OWN domain names directly with a major registrar. "Free" domains aren't worth the cost. And it may be easier to have somebody else handle the messy details for you, but it will eventually bite you.


9:16 pm on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

In the meantime, your only options are to: a) talk to the original web designer and try to work things out with him/her, and b) seek legal advice.

Registrars don't know and don't care what went on behind the scenes of the domain name being registered. Disputes happen every day, and it boils down to being able to prove your claims.

It's not made any easier if the domain name was not paid using your credit card.


11:45 pm on Mar 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Unfortunately I didn't ask him to register a domain on my behalf - I had already registered other candidates. The man simply took it upon himself to register it. I suppose the absence of regulation or enforceable code of conduct does not help. I suppose it is the chaotic nature of the industry that appeals to some.

If he were to be contactable by telephone do you not think I might have done so by now?


12:00 am on Mar 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Unfortunately I didn't ask him to register a domain on my behalf - I had already registered other candidates. The man simply took it upon himself to register it.

In that case, it's unclear to me that you have any claim on that domain name.

If anything, you should have long ago sent him a letter: "please stop pointing your domain at my website!"

It's amazes me how cavalierly some people treat domain names. Somebody registers a domain name you didn't want, in their own name. You then go ahead and use it (and presumably promoto it?) for an extended period of time without clarifying ownership.

Now you want control of this domain that you say you never wanted in the first place.

I'm not so sure there is any new law or code of conduct needed. What's needed is for people to read the fine print and understand the basics of domain registration.

I doubt you have any recourse through the registrar or registry. If it were me, I think I'd be embarassed to even ask them, given the circumstances.

It would seem a valuable lession, though, if nothing else. :)


12:33 am on Mar 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Legally, the domain that he purchased was resold (seemingly at cost) to me and I therefore have title through contract law, yet he has not made the transfer to me. He was appointed to do a job and repaid specifically for the cost of the domain - his invoice specifically states that. I know I have grounds for action under English law (the designer and myself being both UK residents). The law of contract being quite specific in this country. He was, after all, an agent working on my behalf and at the very least there is a breach of trust issue leading to breach of contract with financial implications and therefore recourse.

In an earlier posting you clearly stated that a domain is an asset, a fact which I do not dispute and, consequently, the gentleman in question has defrauded me of an asset in the event that he does not register it in my name. This would be conceived as pilfering or, ultimately, theft.

If there is an alternative to seeking legal counsel I would rather pursue it. But it would seem that you are unlikely to add to the body of knowledge.

An enforceable code of conduct would simplify matters and offer protection for consumers. It would reduce the risk from a "just anyone" setting up and calling him/herself a web designer.


2:06 am on Mar 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

He was appointed to do a job and repaid specifically for the cost of the domain - his invoice specifically states that.

In that case, I'd make another diligent effort to locate the fellow, and if you are unable to, forward the invoice to your registrar. Hopefully, they will accept the evidence that you have. Otherwise, you can try ICANN, and see if THEY will accept the evidence.

It doesn't really sound like a matter of fraud, but one simply of having lost contact with the developer.

The problem with pursuing a legal course is that you will have to locate the guy. Locate him, and you've probably solved your problem without need for legal recourse...

You really are best off trying to locate the developer. If he's still practicing his craft, he can't be THAT hard to locate. He has to have some sort of online presence. Did he "sign" his work in any way? (Either visible or hidden text, comments, etc.?) If so, you should be able to turn up other web sites he has designed -perhaps more recently - by doing a search.

I think your sh


9:34 pm on Mar 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'd have to say jtara is correct in this case.

It seems even if you sent that invoice to Nominet (the uk Registry), they'll tell you to seek legal advice anyway. Registrars and registries receive things like these every other day, and they don't want to spend time and money understanding a gazillion legal jurisdictions when they've got better things to do.

Let me make sure I understand this: the webdesigner registered the domain and paid for it, then you paid him and he issued you a receipt. What does it say exactly?

Unfortunately if the invoice isn't that specific, that's when you'll have to legally prove your claims if forced to.


12:13 am on Mar 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The invoice states specifically which domains were registered and the costs incurred which were reimbursed.


1:12 am on Mar 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I am unfamiliar with UK specific domain rules, but - you should try the approach of 'this is my domain and we wish to change the details and no longer have access to the email address. Here is our proof that we own this domain {invoice} Please change the contact details promptly."
After all, email addresses become unusable every day.
Your further line is "yes, he was working for us, the domain is ours"
At some registrars there is some razamatazz with letters on letterhead and photocopies of drivers licences - expect it.

Should that not be effective - I think there is no point chasing the designer legally as you cannot find him (but keep looking - that is your easiest route). I think you will have to take legal action against the registrar :(
Or give up on the domain :(
Perhaps locate a solicitor familiar with internet issues? Someone here may be able to recommend a UK one (not publically)


5:13 pm on Mar 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Infact I would say act as a anonymous buyer and buy the domain of him.
I know it wouldnt come in cheap but it might be cheaper than your lawyer's fees, the time invloved in getting the domain over to you through the legal system which you might have in UK etc etc.

Just have someone approach him for you and buy off the domain.



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