greetings team - a cautionary tale, and your opinions most welcome!.(apologies that I cant yet be specific on domain name or registrar involved - the dispute is too live & heavy right now).
A software developer (SD) spends years in poverty developing a unique web application. When almost ready, business 'angels' appear with funds for documentaion / marketing etc. they Create a company, (NewCo) & register a .com domain, with SD as owner, and Angel#1 as admin contact. Domain name is the same name that SD has been trading under for many years. SD feels comfy - the program code / IP rights and domain all belong to him and he has decent 20% stake in NewCo which has a cool mil in the bank. Looking good for just a few weeks until ...
Angels#1  decide they dont need SD anymore. He is outvoted 2:1 and forced out of NewCo - at the moment with no compy, part of the reason i'm being coy about naming names. SD thinks, well, at least I still own the domain which I can use as a lever in severance negotiations.
SD contacts registrar to remove angel#1 details from admin contact. Not unreasonably, the registrar wants firm ID before they do this, and transferLock the domain in the interim. SD still feels comfy. He then learns that several days later, angel#1 (as admin contact) has succeeded in changing the domain ownership record - SD doesnt 'own' the domain now, it all belongs to angel#1. Now the registrar wont deal with SD because he's not the owner.
Theres an awful lot of message traffic about domain name disputes, trade names seem to be hot right now, but I cant find anything about when an owner and an admin contact fall-out....who has the rights here. Surely the owner ? Or is it the case that the admin has the 'power' which trumps the rights of the domain owner?
Try sites like whois.sc and find the whois history. Find the most recent copy with your contact details and send the page to your registrar. Tell them that you owned the domain, and the new owner has no proof of ownership, and to ask him for it.
The registrar /may/ then help, otherwise you just have to live with, as Ross said, being conned.
contact your lawyer and start a lawsuit to get it back, if you dont have one or yours is not info domains field try contacting Stevan Lieberman from APLegal.com or Ari Goldberger from ESQWire.com they are both great domain lawyers and won alot of cases.
Bashar Al-Abdulhadi - KuwaitNET Internet Services Serving customers since 1997
Kuwait's First Webhosting and Domain Registration provider - an ICANN Accredited Registrar
Originally posted by othellotech the admin contact is responsible for maintaining the record
at no point does this give the admin contact the right to change the owner of their own accord - if they do it's theft - pure and simple.
Not necessarily. Last I heard from an attorney, register.com treats
the registrant and the admin contact as the same "legal owner".
Plus, as long as someone is able to "legitimately" log inside the
domain account and transfer ownership, registrars don't really
care what goes on "behind the scenes". As far as they know, it's
a "legitimate" online request.
As to proving it's theft, well, that's what lawyers are for...sadly...
Many thanks to you all for the serious thought in your responses. Following Bashars advice am in contact with ESQwire - current view is that it is 'theft' but must be proved in law - also Zans point (& others). I do think theres a general point here of relevance to this group tho':
Othellotech states admin contact does not have the 'right' to change the owner, (but of course he has the power to do so). It seems that Davezan is also right - regstrars act as if the owner either IS the admin contact, or doesnt exist. There is NO mechanism that I can see whereby the owner can override the wishes of the admin contact, except via the courts! I'm crying into my beer I know, but this just isnt right.
Right now the registrar is saying to SD that, "sure..no problem, we can change the ownership record back to you but just hang on while we check with the admin contact thats its all okay." !!!