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  1. #1

    The Case Of A Web Design Firm & An Ex Client

    Hi folks,

    Probably one of the most common legal issues involving domain names is the case of a web designer or firm registering one for its (ex) client. For those not familiar:

    1. Client pays web designer/firm to create a website for them.

    2. Web designer/firm registers domain name under their name instead of client's.

    3. Client and web designer/firm eventually part ways.

    4. Ex-client disputes ownership of domain name. (and maybe sues...)

    I'm sure there's a case or two out there somewhere. Just now, though, I finally read of one posted online:

    http://saperlaw.com/blog/2014/01/03/...name-disputes/

    Legal disputes, as usual, are fact specific. Thus, that case doesn't define or dictate how others will turn out. If anything, that case gives you an idea how it might result, especially with a contract in place.

    To be expected, some will disagree. Fire away, still, given that this is a discussion forum.

    Hat tip to Domain Name Wire.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Harrisburg, PA
    Posts
    2,073
    I'm sure this decision could spawn mountains of pages of interesting discussion, but this one passage sticks out like a sore thumb: "... the plaintiff needs to demand possession (of the domain name) and have that demand refused before trespass will occur. The court found no evidence of a demand-and-refusal."

    In other words, the customer never asked for the domain name. This conversation never took place:

    Customer: "Can I have my domain back please?"
    Registrant: "No LOL"

    The customer just jumped immediately to lawsuit mode. Now I'm sure the case is much more involved than that, but still -- the easiest way to resolve a dispute is to start by asking. Especially if you're 100% certain that the other party isn't going to cooperate and you're 100% certain that it's going to go into litigation. That's the time when you absolutely positively want to attempt to resolve things amicably, so that when you do go to court, your lawyer can point out how "unreasonable" the other side is being.

    TL/DR: It never hurts to ask.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    4,377
    Also note that "the court found that the three days it took for Airoom to get control of its domain name was not a substantial period of time". The plaintiff didn't file suit to get control of the domain. They filed after gaining possession because they were angry that they had to ask for the auth code and it was 3 days before their site was back online. My sympathies are with the web design company.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    196
    I'm not sure what question you were trying to get from the community but ICANN LAW states very clearly that the owner of the domain is the name on the credit card of the purchaser. I personally give my clients their own registration account so they can do whatever they want to do with their domain. I never hold anyone's domain hostage, ever! Why ? bad business, too time consuming. If you are a web designer and this is your standard practice then your an A$$hole. I have had to explain this to thousands of customers, do not have your webmaster register your domain. Even if you don't know how to do it. Have someone do it that can give you full access. A real webmaster will have the ability I discussed above, a reseller account for domain registration. The contract with the webmaster for design should be separate from the contract for registration.
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by solarblunet View Post
    I'm not sure what question you were trying to get from the community but ICANN LAW states very clearly that the owner of the domain is the name on the credit card of the purchaser. I personally give my clients their own registration account so they can do whatever they want to do with their domain. I never hold anyone's domain hostage, ever! Why ? bad business, too time consuming. If you are a web designer and this is your standard practice then your an A$$hole. I have had to explain this to thousands of customers, do not have your webmaster register your domain. Even if you don't know how to do it. Have someone do it that can give you full access. A real webmaster will have the ability I discussed above, a reseller account for domain registration. The contract with the webmaster for design should be separate from the contract for registration.
    Oh, I just shared the story here for discussion. After all, this place is a discussion forum.

    Maybe I haven't looked hard enough, but...I've yet to see any ICANN "law" that specifies the credit card holder as the owner of the domain name.

    Perhaps ideally, the credit card holder (or at least the one paying) ought to be the owner of the domain name. In my past registrar work, though, I've had cases where people registered domain names for other entities (i.e. small businesses, non-profits) and paid using their cards or so.

    Personally, I find it great that a webmaster, designer, etc. puts the domain name under their client's name. Even if the (a$$hole?) client maybe reneges on their agreement or payment/s with the webmaster or so, at least the latter (hopefully) did their part. That's small consolation, however, to those who believe in the principle of pursuing their due or what they're owed.

    Like I said, the case I shared here can -- at least -- give an idea how these things can turn out. Anywho, folks, thanks for the discussion.

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