Retrieving Domain name from Domain Name Sitter
March 28, 2013 3:32 AM   Subscribe

Hi Guys, I have a domain name in mind that I want to register for my new web design business. Currently it is owned by a domain sitting company, They want almost $2,000 to buy the domain name. Obviously I am less than eager to fork over that amount.

So, here is a solution I am toying with. I was looking into incorporating as an LLC, under the same name as my wanted domain (it is available). This will cost around $300.

Then as a corporation, I can trademark the name of the company (also available) with the US Patent & Trademark Office. This will also cost around $300.

After I have completed the above 2 steps, I believe that I am then entitled to approach the Domain Sitting company and demand that they hand over the domain.

Has anyone gone through a similar scenario? The way I've explained it above, is that how it works? Or am I in cuckoo land and completely misinformed?

Any input is truly appreciated.
posted by leftfooter to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Or, you could think of another name, which costs you nothing, and lets you get on with doing business. You have no dog in this fight. Do you want to dick around, or be a web designer?
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:36 AM on March 28, 2013 [10 favorites]

Does the fact that you're trademarking (or attempting to) after the domain was registered come into play at all?

Can you get the .net or similar? Do you have the twitter (and other social media) accounts secured?
posted by backwards guitar at 3:52 AM on March 28, 2013

If the time of the CEO of your business is not valuable, then by definition your business is not financially viable.

So let's assume your time IS valuable. So, you need to value it as such when you consider diverting yourself from core business activities like finding customers.

On the flip side, this particular domain has so little financial value to you that you're not prepared to fork over $2000 on it. Apparently, in your good judgement, you don't believe that owning this domain will get you even one small contract more than you would have had without it.

Don't spend your valuable time chasing internet property that is not valuable.
posted by emilyw at 3:55 AM on March 28, 2013 [7 favorites]

I think you're in cloud cuckoo land.

The price of the domain is negotiable. At that price of $2k, you will speak to a salesperson, who will be commissioned to get the highest price from you. Committing to a trademark and a business name means you are more likely to pay a higher price than less.

You don't - and I'm not a lawyer - just get the right to demand it from them at the price you want. You can make it harder for them to sell on to a third party that wants to use it, because you'll have a prior mark on that name. But they don't have to sell it to you for the price you want. They've bought it in good faith, prior to the establishment of your business. This is their business model. Trademarked or not, they will sell it to you at the price they want.

Demand and pressure works both ways. If you're good at negotiating, you'll convey enough interest that the salesperson can see an easy sale, enough urgency that he'll want to sell it quickly, and enough disinterest that he doesn't feel the sale will go through at a high price. His personal commission scheme is likely based on volume. His time is definitely money, so the quicker turnaround he can achieve when someone bites on a domain name, the quicker he can move onto the next sale. Hum and haw, introduce other decision makers, talk about budget cycles and cash flow but make positive noises about wanting it. In turn, he will probably make an offer that is also time sensitive to get you to commit to the sale. He will be on either a weekly or a monthly target so ends of month are a good time to talk if he's behind on his target. Ends of quarters are brilliant times to talk to sales people because there are typically incentives for quarterly targets. This means discounts are deeper and generally the ball is very much in your court in terms of negotiating.

I note it is the 28th March, so end of month and quarter. This is prime discounting time.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:02 AM on March 28, 2013 [8 favorites]

If you haven't already, offer the current domain name owner an amount you'll be willing to pay for it. Just say "I'm offering $X, take it or leave it". Then be prepared to leave it and walk away, and think up a new domain name.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:44 AM on March 28, 2013

This is a bad plan. Trademarking a business name in order to get your desired domain isn't guaranteed to work in the least. Have you run this idea past an IP lawyer? I work with one who specialises in domain names. Memail me if you'd like his name.
posted by third word on a random page at 5:00 AM on March 28, 2013

The procedure you describe is unethical, at best. At someone point, someone else registered the name you want before you knew you wanted it. Then someone else bought it before you knew you wanted it. I'm not sure why you think it's okay to effectively steal it because you don't want to pay for it.

Your best bet is to figure out how much it's worth to you, and then offer that amount to the current owner. No negotiation; a take-it-or-leave-it offer. If you're lucky, the owner will decide that getting SOME money is better than getting NO money and will accept your offer.

Best of luck to you!
posted by DWRoelands at 5:59 AM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

After I have completed the above 2 steps, I believe that I am then entitled to approach the Domain Sitting company and demand that they hand over the domain.

IAAL, IANYL, TINLA. I have prosecuted cybersquatting cases.

You are in fantasy land. That is not how trademark works and your proposed actions would be in bad faith.

The domain sitting company has spent money registering that domain in hopes that it would be profitable to do so. You have proved them correct in this instance. Your choice is to pay their demand of $2,000, negotiate them down to a lesser amount, or register another domain name for your company.
posted by Tanizaki at 6:28 AM on March 28, 2013 [6 favorites]

After I have completed the above 2 steps, I believe that I am then entitled to approach the Domain Sitting company and demand that they hand over the domain.

Why don't we start here: what is the basis for that belief? I'm not IP lawyer, but that statement sets off alarm bells in my head, and all of them say "that can't possibly be right..."
posted by craven_morhead at 7:18 AM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

That thread covered things pretty well 4 days ago.
posted by Slinga at 7:51 AM on March 28, 2013

As I said in that other thread, this isn't how it works. If the domain owner registered and is using the domain in good faith - meaning without knowledge of your rights in the trademark and without infringing on that mark - you have no recourse. You didn't have any trademark rights at all when they registered the domain, so it's hard to imagine how they could have acted in bad faith. Establishing trademark rights and registering the mark now doesn't give you any claim over domains registered before that happened. Negotiate to buy the domain or move on.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:45 AM on March 28, 2013

If you develop the name after they bought the domain name, they aren't squatting. 2K is not unreasonable to buy a domain name you want. Offer them 1K; see what happens.
posted by theora55 at 10:40 AM on March 28, 2013

Have they taken both the .com and .net?

Can you slightly change the name or add a geographic (location) keyword to your business name?

How often will people not have your full URL to go to? (For example, how often will you just say to someone, "Go to" instead of handing them a card or linking them to the website from other sources.)

I work in internet marketing. The URL is becoming more and more keyword based now since most of your traffic will likely come through search traffic or links from other websites. If you have proper SEO (Search Engine Optimization and keywords) set up it shouldn't matter if your URL is exactly what you want it to be. If they google your business name you should still come up.

I say go around them with a new domain. You can also try to get that one later and point it over to yours. I say it's too much. The business I work for is at a .net and the .com is sat on by someone similar. We have never had any problems with someone not finding us.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:23 PM on March 28, 2013

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