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  1. #1

    domain legal question

    Greetings, any input is appreciated greatly!

    Will try to be as brief as possible with this scenario..

    I registered 6-8 domains for my neighbors business site, and developed the site. No money has changed hands, the domains are registered under my name and my name only, I have paid for these for the last 6 years free of charge for my neighbor. Now my neighbors father has sued him and taken control of the business, and he wants the domains released to him. Technically I own them and did register them in good faith. I would consider selling them to him, but the case is going to appeal and I would rather sit on them until the case is completely settled. Right now they point to my site.. so my questions..

    1. does a judge have the legal leeway to order me to release them? ( I assume so) or will they have to go thru ICANN.

    2. should I not have them point to my site at all?

    My main concern is the judge, I think I have a good chance of keeping the domains if it were to go to ICANN or the registar.

    Thanx in advance!

  2. #2
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    This could be simple or get very complicated. What kind of case has your neighbor's father brought against you in court? Did your neighbor have trademarks on the names? Are you violating those trademarks by pointing to your website?
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by stub View Post
    This could be simple or get very complicated. What kind of case has your neighbor's father brought against you in court? Did your neighbor have trademarks on the names? Are you violating those trademarks by pointing to your website?
    He's hasn't done anything at this point, but has mentioned he is going to ask the judge some questions.. there are no trademarks on the company, at least there is nothing filed with the trademark office. I'm just preparing for worst case scenario at this point. naturally if a judge were to give me an order I would comply.. I worked with the son on the domains and web dev, and never had any dealings with the father whatsoever.. Thanx for you reply I appreciate any insight you might have.

  4. #4
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    If the domains have always been in your name and you've been paying for them they're yours. I don't think the JUdge would have authority to order you to hand them over.

    You could possibly make the case that you were leasing use of the domains to your neighbour.
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  5. #5
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    I don't get it. You saying he isn't taking you to court, but he's talking with a judge. Sounds like BS to me. If there are no Trademarks, you are probably safe to hold onto the domains. I'd like to hear what "the judge" has to say.
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by stub View Post
    I don't get it. You saying he isn't taking you to court, but he's talking with a judge. Sounds like BS to me. If there are no Trademarks, you are probably safe to hold onto the domains. I'd like to hear what "the judge" has to say.
    Both parties will be in court today, the son ( my neighbor) was ordered to surrender everything related to the business to his father, he has no complied 100%, hence another hearing ( I see a contemp charge coming) I'm assuming this is when the domains come up, while they address the other non- compliance issues.

    I do appreciate your feedback, I'm leaning towered me not having any issues.

  7. #7
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    Since neither the son nor business ever owned the domains I would be very surprised (and concerned) if the courts decided they have jurisdiction over the domains.
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  8. #8
    this is interesting , but i would look into one thing. When you bought the domain, what was the state of the company ? Who owned it ? Was it new ? Was it unofficial ? Basically what I'm saying is , if there is no legal proof that the company existed before you bought the domain, you are absolutely safe. You can charge the father a million dollars if you want and it would be legal. But if thats not so, I dont know. However, considering that you have owned and used the domain for so long, with their knowledge, they should definitely have brought up the "issue" sooner. So my vote would be to play it along, try to sell the domain to the father for as much as you can possibly squeeze out. Whether you wanna keep this as fees for your work last 6 years or give it to the son as a sign of goodwill will be upto you.

    Note: I'm no expert, and laws could change from country to country. I'm only talking from common sense.

  9. #9
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    From my experience, worst case is that the judge can order a cease and desist for the domain. This does not mean that you have to give him the domain, you just have to not have anything on the domains landing page. I might suggest you just park the domain until they figure everything out. At the end of the day the domain is yours.

  10. #10
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    They're your domains, since they've been paid for by you and registered in your name from the beginning. I think this argument would be very clear to a judge, especially since you weren't working for your neighbor's company, and it doesn't sound like you transferred ownership of the domains to him at any point. To avoid getting caught up in anything, though, I would point the domains away from your own site, to the registrar or a blank page.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuddhaPi View Post
    1. does a judge have the legal leeway to order me to release them? ( I assume so) or will they have to go thru ICANN.
    Is this in the US legal system? It would seem to me that the judge could only order you to do anything if the father were to file a new complaint against you. Right now the dispute is between the father and son so the judge should only be able to order them to do something. Of course IANAL.
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  12. #12
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    I wouldn't be so sure that a judge, or arbitrator, would rule that the domains are yours.

    Do they correspond to the company name?

    Is there proof that they were being used by the company? (There probably is at archive.org if nowhere else)

    If so then even without a trademark they could be deemed to be the company's intellectual property.

  13. #13
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    Even with a trademark, from what I have seen in the past, the only thing the judge can do is a cease and desist order. I have a lot of experience with this topic but like tulaweb said IANAL

  14. #14
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    I agree with everyone else. The "business" your neighbour's father got from him, doesn't legally own the domain names. They belong to you. I'd have a hard time thinking that any crackpot judge would ask you to give up those domains. But then I guess that depends much on the legal arguments you have both put forward.
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  15. #15
    Interesting case.

    IMHNLO that father will have to show some kind of "ownership interest" in those domains if he could. In light of your situation's details, that's easier said than done because of what was agreed upon (if any) between you and the father's son/your neighbor.

    You don't have to do anything for him, though that father could legally force the issue if you're all especially within the same state or so. Just be ready to retain a lawyer with real-world experience especially on domain matters.

    Good luck.

  16. #16
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    This is interesting but if you have proof of purchase and can prove that no money have exchanged hands you still be the owner of the domains and could use them as you see fit.
    If they was to try and change the names on the whois ownership they would need your consent anyway.
    It might be that you can keep them or they can buy them off you or they will have to change there company name and purchase new domain names.

  17. #17
    You are faced with two scenarios.

    With ICANN you are backed.

    With the judge you need to be extra careful, because the case may not end up being only the domain that involves you but will implicate you in your dealings with the son.

    Therefore get a legal consultant to advice you better following the laws f your country and what to say when called up.
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  18. #18
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    What will matter is the paper trail. If the son has been ordered to turn over all company records then the farther could now be in possession of written correspondence between you and the son regarding the domain name.

    If email or letters surface that contain references to the domains in relation to the business then they could potentially be tendered in court. Especially if you have previously put in writing that the domains are "for the business".

    Probably best to wait and see what turns up.
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  19. #19
    Thanx, everybody for the input, I'm going to sit tight and see what shakes out, their is no papertrail or emails and I believe I registered the domains before the corp was even set-up..thanks again!!

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    Please keep us informed. Thank you.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuddhaPi View Post
    Greetings, any input is appreciated greatly!

    Will try to be as brief as possible with this scenario..

    I registered 6-8 domains for my neighbors business site, and developed the site. No money has changed hands, the domains are registered under my name and my name only, I have paid for these for the last 6 years free of charge for my neighbor. Now my neighbors father has sued him and taken control of the business, and he wants the domains released to him. Technically I own them and did register them in good faith. I would consider selling them to him, but the case is going to appeal and I would rather sit on them until the case is completely settled. Right now they point to my site.. so my questions..

    1. does a judge have the legal leeway to order me to release them? ( I assume so) or will they have to go thru ICANN.

    2. should I not have them point to my site at all?

    My main concern is the judge, I think I have a good chance of keeping the domains if it were to go to ICANN or the registar.

    Thanx in advance!
    Why not do the simple thing and give them the domains?

    I don't see the point of going through all of this... talk to the father first and see if you can show where you purchased the domains and held them for "x" years... ask for payment for those years so you break even.

    Since the site is not developed, you have no interest there...

    If the dad does not want to pay you for the domains, put it up as a lesson and walk away.... no harm, no foul.... then if the domain blows up or the sites gets crazy, you can sue later and get 100 million just for holding the domains those first couple of years.
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  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by hekwu View Post
    Since the site is not developed, you have no interest there.
    The OP said the sites are developed, yet no money changed hands. It ultimately depends what was agreed upon (preferably in writing somehow somewhere) between the OP and his neighbor, but he has no obligations towards the neighbor's dad so far.

    What I'm thinking is the dad might then try to get a court order if all else fails, then serve it on the registrar. Depends on the registrar if they choose to honor it or not, though they "mainly" don't if not issued within their jurisdiction.

  23. #23
    When it comes to something like this. Normally if the domain name is not a trademark violation and you are the legal owner of them there isn't much he can do aside from purchasing them from you. But I am by no means in any position to offer legal advice. But that is how it normally works with non-trademarked names and domains.

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