Who knows? One day he could be President NicknameLastname.com
August 1, 2013 6:26 AM   Subscribe

I've had my personal domain name for sixteen years (think nicknamelastname.com). I've had my Twitter name for five years. I'd like to hold on to them, but someone powerful has asked to purchase them.

He's an out-of-state politician and Congressional candidate who is slightly older than me. He may turn out to be the kind of person who can mount a costly legal challenge to get control of those resources. What can I do to protect myself and continue to keep control over the domain name and Twitter name?
posted by infinitewindow to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know about you, but is the sum of money involved interesting? I mean, yeah, I've had my stuff for a while too, but money talks and bullshit walks. Are you USING the Twitter and the domain name for anything?

As for now, they're yours. He might try to sue you, but you've got 'em, and you've had 'em. I can't see a legal fight being successful. Shit, I'd just show up in court and tell the guy to take a hike. I mean, you've got the bills for the domain registration.

Other people can't just come up and take what's yours.

At least TALK to the dude, see if the money he's offering is life changing, or at the very least enough to get you a plane ticket someplace fun.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:32 AM on August 1, 2013 [6 favorites]

A domain based on your name and not a trademark is almost completely impossible to seize and it is highly unlikely he would attempt to do so, particularly because of the potential bad publicity that would ensue. You might be able to reach a deal to provide a prominent link to anyone who lands on your page by mistake and a promise not to put up any derogatory material and still get paid without releasing your domain.

I have no idea how Twitter handles this, but I assume they are similar.
posted by Lame_username at 6:36 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This thread is relevant.

My - non lawyer - understanding is that priority and good faith matter. You have priority because it is your domain. You can prove good faith because of your length of tenure and also because it is your name.

In short: my understanding is that the guy doesn't have a legal leg to stand on. Any good IP lawyer should be able to tell him this within 5 minutes.

The relevant US law is explained here.
In determining whether the domain name registrant has a bad faith intent to profit, a court may consider many factors, including nine that are outlined in the statute:
- the registrant’s trademark or other intellectual property rights in the domain name;
- whether the domain name contains the registrant’s legal or common name;
- the registrant’s prior use of the domain name in connection with the bona fide offering of goods or services;
- the registrant’s bona fide noncommercial or fair use of the mark in a site accessible by the domain name;
- the registrant’s intent to divert customers from the mark owner’s online location that could harm the goodwill represented by the mark, for commercial gain or with the intent to tarnish or disparage the mark;
- the registrant’s offer to transfer, sell, or otherwise assign the domain name to the mark owner or a third party for financial gain, without having used the mark in a legitimate site;
- the registrant’s providing misleading false contact information when applying for registration of the domain name;
- the registrant’s registration or acquisition of multiple domain names that are identical or confusingly similar to marks of others; and
- the extent to which the mark in the domain is distinctive or famous.
Now, I might be wrong, but if you were to use the domain to damage the guy's "brand" then there might be a chance this would progress legally. Otherwise, you're there first, you've bought it in good faith and you don't fit any of the criteria for cybersquatting.

As to protection from frivolous legal challenges, I'm not so clear. But, the court is not the first point is resolution. ICANN’s Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy is.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:43 AM on August 1, 2013

Best answer: I had the same thing a few years back with a firstnamelastname.com domain I bought for my son. Again it was someone involved in politics in the US - in this case someone involved in managing an election campaign.

There's not much anyone can do legally to take the domain from you; they basically have to prove that you're holding the domain name in bad faith (i.e. that it's a well-known trademark or famous person's name, and you've obtained the domain for the sole purpose of extorting money from someone). And it's far from a sure thing that their claim on the domain will be successful even then.

You have a reasonable claim to the domain name, and what's more, you're using it. As far as anti-cybersquatting laws are concerned, your claim on the domain is watertight.

In my case, I got an email from the politician asking how much I wanted for the domain. After consideration I asked for $5,000 (because I felt it has that much potential value to my son) and he declined. End of story - that was five years ago, and I've heard nothing since.
posted by pipeski at 6:47 AM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

If it were me, following the advice above, I would tell him you are retaining ownership, but would be willing to negotiate a fee to provide a link to whatever site he settles on and that you will not post any derogatory information about the politician.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:00 AM on August 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

I might ad that if this politician really does start moving up the ladder, the website name will be even more valuable and it is more likely you can sell it to someone for a not trivial amount of money.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:04 AM on August 1, 2013

How do you keep control if your domain? Keep paying your registration.
posted by zippy at 8:17 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Twitter has been known to give accounts away if you don't actively use it.
posted by ridogi at 8:47 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Make sure you don't give your registrar any gap in service--especially if it's GoDaddy (and if it is, consider moving to someone else like Hover). If you don't renew the domain, most registrars will hold it random.
posted by davextreme at 9:16 AM on August 1, 2013

Yes, keep really up-to-date with your registrar. I like the idea of offering a link, but I'm pretty cautious - could that be construed as domain squatting? Also, if the politician has beliefs you find abhorrent, you may want to think about how you want to handle that. Meanwhile, make use of your name by posting once in a while.
posted by theora55 at 9:20 AM on August 1, 2013

Best answer: The ICANN Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy

The key thing is to avoid is 'Evidence of Registration and Use in Bad Faith:'

(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

(ii) you have registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location.

So don't mention the politician anywhere on the site and don't say anything that could be construed as negotiation, just answer with a flat "its not for sale"

Twitter have their own set of rules
posted by Lanark at 10:08 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd like to hold on to them, but someone powerful has asked to purchase them.

Surely there must be some price at which you'd be willing to sell your domain. There's probably no harm in asking the other party to make an offer (better that than naming a price yourself since you might sell yourself short).
posted by Dansaman at 10:44 AM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you want to hold on to it, do. If you're interested in finding out what he's willing to pay you can still do that without risking loss as you have a legitimate interest in the domain name. Any UDRP panelist worth his or her salt would make that distinction.

Feel free to memail me if you want tips or want someone to handle the whole thing for you.
posted by FlamingBore at 3:49 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks to all for the advice.

I received my domain name as a high school graduation gift. It's been with me my entire adult life and has sentimental value far above and beyond its monetary value. Some school friends still call me NicknameLastname.com!

I really have no interest in abandoning that part of my identity unless the money involved is seriously life-changing, and I don't think a first-time Congressional candidate can offer that kind of cash.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:29 AM on August 2, 2013

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