Backorderd a domain, won, now previous owner wants it back
I was hoping my first post here wouldn't be anything like this, but I've been reading the forums for quite some time and now need some advice. And first off, I know a lawyer is the only one to dispence legal advice, but I hope this situation wont come to that.
OK, about a week ago I won a domain that was in redemption period, and thus deleted. The previous owner left me quite a rude voicemail this afternoon saying he doesn't know what happened, he paid for said domain for years, blah blah, and he's going to figure out how to get it switched back to him. The man in question ran a website for his business, which has now been renamed and he has had a new site for a while it seems, which is a computer security company which makes this all the more amusing, how someone who lives off of keeping networks safe lets his old domain just slip away, but anyway. I wasn't trying to "steal" this domain by any means. I used all resources I could to avoid this very situation, utilizing the wayback machine it showed no website there since July of 2003. I visited the trademark and patent office, and found no record of any trademark related. I called the phone number listed in the wayback archive of his old site several times with no answer or voicemail, a Google search netted nothing related to the site or any information on it. As not to make the domain name public for now, it is my last name with a "e" tacked on the front (as in "e"mail). I got this domain for my family to use as permanent email/webspace, have no intent of using his name for traffic or resale. I would like some input on where to go from here. I dont want to sell the domain as it's fitting for myself and family, though I cant afford to fight a battle for it. The only real thing this guys got going for him is he was the previous owner, and apparently *had* a business named such, but he seems to have changed his business' name a while back. Before I email the guy to discuss this with him I need a little advice on what to say and what not to say to avoid more problems. Thanks!
Check with a legal professional who knows Internet law...
...but I would think that any problems in this situation reside with the registrar / backorder service rather than with you.
If they sold you a domain that wasn't, legally theirs to sell, then they are the ones who have to make the matter right. It sounds as if you bought the domain name in good faith, fully believing that the domain was available for resale. If the registrar(s) or domain backordering service mislead either of you - they're the ones who have to fix the situation.
I can understand that he would be upset. But in this case, his primary beef is with the company that sold you the domain name, not with you.
I do not completely understand the domain name lifecycle. I don't game that market, I don't offer my clients advice on how to speculate on the Internet, that's not an arena I've ever cared to enter. My knowledge there is, to say the least, limited. I don't know if the company who sold you the domain name, did so before they were legally able. Again, however, that onus would probably rest with them - not with you.
If he wants to dispute ownership of the domain name, I think that there is a process in place for this already. That is probably the process he should use - unless you are willing to give him back the domain name for basic recompense of the fees you spent in obtaining it. I don't know how much such a disupte process would cost you, if anything, or how that process works.
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Well I know there is a process with ICANN for domain disputes, at a heafty 1000+ dollar expense. From the whois that was available at the time it looked like he had it registered for about 3-4 years. When it comes close to expiring he should have got plenty of emails from his registrar letting him know it was going to expire. After it expired he would have had about 30-45 days to renew it while it was in redemption period from his registrar for a larger fee, before it was deleted. While it was in redemption period his domain would not have been functional, his email and website would have been not available, so I think he'd have known. Since it seems he's doing business under a different name now I really don't see what he wants in the domain except for no one else to have it, or he forgot to renew it, letting it expire and didnt want to pay the extra 150-200 to renew it while in redemption period, and thought he'd get it back. When I bid on it with namewinner, there was a small competition, so somebody else wanted it too, probably not him though.
Also, I looked at the offical site for his state and city his "business" resides in and found no listing for either his old or new business, I think he if were big enough to need the domain, he'd be listed *somewhere*. I don't really want to ignore the guy, I got the domain completely in good faith and have nothing to hide from him, I just didnt want to get back to him and say the wrong thing to give him something to stand on. From previous posts I've read here on teh subject it seems if one offers to sell the domain back it can be disputed that one bought it with the intent to resell it, arguably showing bad faith. He said he'd call later so I guess I'll just see if he does, I cant do anything right now anyway since it seems a domain has to be 60 days old before transfering anyway
Make sure your registrar lock is on the domain, and your whois info is accurate; don't risk losing YOUR domain with fake whois information. With that, I'd just ignore him.
You want it, you got it. Keep it, and. now use it. Put up a placeholder page, or some random simple content.
If he does manage to get you on the phone, maybe tell him to please contact his registrar about it, and they would be able to explain it in complete detail. Be polite, but firm.
If he starts to harrass you... well, thats a totally different thread altogether.
... odd thought just crossed my mind after posting; there is no way you could be *sure* it was him (and i wouldn't bother to try confirm that either). maybe it's someone else who really wants the domain, and lost it to you, and was just trying to bluff? Regardless, have him sort it out with his registrar.
I agree with the others, ignore him. Its not your problem or fault. Unless he takes you to court, which seems unlikely.
My only problem was with a registrar, a few years ago, who wouldnt let me transfer my domain name away from them without renewing, and at a cost of approx USD 200, I was none too keen, as they had already stung me for not confirming I wanted to renew, so they did anyway. The next time, I let it lapse, and told them so they wouldnt just charge me anyway. Waited and picked it up again. Got the .com and .net as well. Nominet, were totally useless.
Well the site was in a redemption period for thirty days, meaning the site was down all that time and could not have been all that important to him. Perhaps he didnt want to pay the redemption fee and thought he could manually register it when it was deleted.
Either way, he obviously wasnt using the domain.
Whatever you do, do not offer to sell him the domain, like you said, that can sometimes be interpreted as having registered the domain in bad faith. Also try and put up a site there to show you are using the domain name.
If he wants the domain bad enough, he will either offer you at least US$1500 or commence legal procedings which will cost him more than US$1000+
The fact that your domain name is your surname, means that you have an extremely strong case for keeping the domain name in my opinion.