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  1. #1

    Exclamation Legal advice - domains stolen


    I have a client which wants to change web hosting. But he found out that his previous hosting company registered his domains as theirs. So the previous hosting company owns "his" domains and my client want them back, of course.

    My client is quite big international company and all his domains are company web sites, so it is easy to certify that the content belongs to my client and not to the web hosting company. Can it help him to recover his domains?

    Do you have any legal advise what can he to do?

    Thanks for your opinions!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Petr, I hate to say this but the domains aren't actually stolen. Another example of why keeping domains separate from hosting is a good thing.

    He should try to work with the previous host to get them back. In the mean time he should be digging up all info he can concerning payments, communication, etc because the next step is filing a UDRP case.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    The OC
    eSology is right. This topic comes up repeatedly here. Everyone touts how great it was that their hosting company gave them a "free" domain name registration with hosting. Until they try to change hosting companies and they find that deep in the fine print is some legalese giving the host the legal right to bascially hold the domain hostage.

    For the sake of $7.00 to $10.00 "savings" people later find themselves paying thousands in legal fees to get their domain name back.

    But, as eSology suggested, he should approach the previous host to reacquire the domain names. Most of them have their price for giving up the domain. And it's usually much less than one or two phone calls to an attorney (at least my attorney ).

    Good Luck!
    You may delay, but time will not. --- Benjamin Franklin

  4. #4
    Originally posted by eSology
    because the next step is filing a UDRP case.
    And hope that hosting company doesn't respond to the UDRP.

    Can't really blame you for feeling the domain was stolen though,
    Petr. While many people feel that way, in this line of business it's
    not "really" considered stolen.

    Just read the other threads and you'll see the pros and cons of

  5. #5
    Thank you for your replies! Anyway this situation is a little different then described in other threads.

    This company provided not only hosting for my client, they offered full service (web design, hosting etc.). They have no official web site where they offer "free domain" and no terms and conditions where is written by small font that the domain will belong to the hosting company. It is small web design company owned by 2 guys which offer web hosting too.

    ...and one of these guys promised to my client to create him a web site, host it and register domain (not for free, my client paid domain registration fees and each year domain renewals).

  6. #6
    Unfortunately it still doesn't change the fact (assuming it's true)
    that the domains are registered under the hosting company's
    name. If their name is listed as the registrant of those domains,
    that makes them the legal owner, no ifs ands or buts.

    And that doesn't change the options the other posters mentioned
    here, either.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    The OC
    Sorry to be so doom and gloom, Petr, but the fact that there is NO written agreement might actually make things worse.

    Basically, possession is 9/10's of the law. If the webdesign / hosting guys have the domain names listed as being owned by them, then it is your client's task to prove that the domains are owned by him. We are all just trying to be realists and tell you that this can be quite a lengthy and expensive process.

    I again suggest that your client first try some friendly negotiation with the webdesign guys - this might be the cheapest and fastest route in the end. Swallow their pride and pay some extortion money (I mean transfer fees ) to these guys. It is simply a cost of doing business and tuition for the school of hard knocks.

    If that doesn't work, then I would suggest you contact an attorney local to where the design guys are located to send them basically a demand letter. This letter would simply demand that they return the domains to your client who paid for them in the first place. Of course, the attorney can threaten some appropriate action if they do not comply. This should only cost a couple of hundred dollars. And the sending of this letter would help you in any further legal action you do pursue.

    Beyond this point, if these webdesign guys dig their feet in, it will cost your client several thousand dollars to try and regain those domain names.
    You may delay, but time will not. --- Benjamin Franklin

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    By the sea
    If your client's name is a registered trademark it could maybe ease things ?

    Anyway, one golden advice was stated already before: keep domains seperated from hosting. Or do at least a check: check sites hosted by the company and check the WHOIS info to see if the company tends to register domains on the customer's name.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    This is a topic that regularly comes up on another forum, where it is generally referred to as the "clueless web designer syndrome".

    Note the word - CLUELESS.

    It seems that web designers have a tendency to register domains in their own name NOT for any sinister reasons but simply because they don't know any better. Being designers rather than "domain name people" they don't understand the legal implications of what goes in the registrant field. Often all that is required is for someone to explain to them how things SHOULD be done...

  10. #10

    The company does not own the domain name and should have had your email address as the admin address. This is a key thing to look at when registering a domain name. All transfer are based on this email address. Make sure that they do not place in their email address in any part of the domain name registration. With all TLD if they are unlocked and the email address is in your name then the transfer can be done regardless to what they say.


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