Domain Names: A Sneaky Attempt To Take My Name

If you have a domain name(s) that you’ve registered how much thought have you given to who else might want the name? That question crossed my mind only in the context of – do I have a name that others might like to buy or one that could potentially drive traffic to a website. I was registering many domain names. Some names I wanted to use myself, some to keep, hoping they would go up in value, and others to sell as soon as I could find a buyer. Most of the names I had made up – until it had become difficult to think of new names that had meaning and were not very long. When that happened I started registering expired domain names.

After accumulating several hundred names I decided to take a break and pondered my next move. I didn’t have to wait long. Within a week I received a notice from my registrar. It seemed a registrar in Germany had someone who was transferring one of my domain names to their account. How could they get away with that? That was my first experience of having someone steal a name from me. I had heard of such things, but experiencing them first hand is much more real.

I quickly emailed my registrar and asked what was going on and that I had not given anyone permission to take one of my names. I was told my domain had already been transferred to someone else. I gave my registrar explicit instructions to cancel the transfer, which they did immediately, and as soon as I got the name back they placed a lock on the domain so it could not happen again.

Confident I had solved the problem, that incident quickly left my mind, as I had a myriad of other things to do. But no – things never seem so easy, as I came to realize a couple of weeks later. I checked my email and there was an email from that same registrar, where two weeks earlier someone tried to transfer my domain name. It was a form letter in both English and German telling me they were transferring my domain name to their registry. I asked a co-worker who was German to translate the German language part. She verified that language said the same as the English version. All my domains were locked so there was nothing I had to do.

By now I wondered how my name,*, which I made up, could be so important. I did some quick research on the Internet and found there was a company in Germany with the name ~~~~fix. It was starting to aggravate me that if someone wanted my dot com version of the name why didn’t they just make me an offer for the name. It seemed awfully suspicious that someone wanted that name so badly that they would try to transfer it when it was plainly up for sale. The directory website where that name was hosted showed a for sale notice along with a price.

I quickly composed a letter and emailed it to that registrar expressing my thoughts. I also raised the price of the domain name once I had sent the email. Because I was upset about the matter I decided to raise the selling price by a factor of ten. I never received a response from my email and assumed the matter was closed.

Well, to make a long story short I received three more emails within the next three weeks, each with attempts to get me to transfer my domain name to them. The emails included dubious documentation and said “You must agree to enter into a new Registration Agreement with us”. I ignored all attempts to sign away my domain name to the other registrar.

The last four attempts to get me to surrender my domain name all occurred just after ICANN changed the rules pertaining to domain names. That new ruling took affect November 12, 2004 making it easier (in my opinion) for someone to sneakily transfer a domain name. With the current new rules it seems all you have to do is not respond to your registrar within five days of them sending you notice indicating your domain name is being transferred. If you happen to be on vacation, not respond to your email quickly, or overlook such email, you may find yourself short a domain name. If however, your domain name(s) is locked, then you shouldn’t have to worry about that problem. My impression is that many registrars are now locking domain names by default so they cannot be transferred automatically, but you should check yours to be sure.

All this fuss over a domain name I made up got me thinking about my rights to my domain name. I checked the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, signed by President Clinton, November 29, 1999. I’m no lawyer, but it does not look favorable for meArticle Submission, even though I made up a name I did not think anyone else had. I’ll let you the reader check the law and come to your own conclusion.

There has been no further action on that domain name and it has been two and a half months since the last attempt to transfer it away from me. Is this the end of that saga?

* I’ve left out the first few characters for my protection.
Contact me if you must know the exact name.

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