How to find out who really owns a domain name?
February 17, 2015 11:15 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend... A few years ago I registered $ I forgot to renew the registration a while back and it's been claimed by someone else. I'd like to get it back...

For various reasons I would strongly prefer not to contact the current owner directly (and in any event a WHOIS on the domain shows that it's registered anonymously via some company in Panama). What are my options for reclaiming it?

(I did search previous AskMes but most of the relevant ones were several years ago and I don't know if they're still useful.)
posted by asterix to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You might need a lawyer to get any further on this. Here's something that might help: Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 11:36 AM on February 17, 2015

I've used before to acquire a domain name.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:42 AM on February 17, 2015

Bloody domain squatters. It's a sad, hard lesson—akin to the first (and hopefully only) time you lose a hard drive with no backup. If you value your domain, you need to stay on top of your renewal dates. Commiserations.

There may be some recourse because the domain name is your friend's name. But, yes, legal intervention (and legal fees) will likely be necessary. The dispute mechanisms are viewable at ICANN's Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy page.

In short: headaches, expenses, time, and no guarantee of success. My advice is to sigh, swallow hard, and move on.
posted by MACTdaddy at 11:47 AM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

It might not be ideal, but getting a non .com TLD is not the worst thing in the world anymore. There was a time when a was a sign of a pretty unprofessional site, but nowadays lots of things are .this and .that without looking too sketchy.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 12:42 PM on February 17, 2015

I really enjoyed this podcast about domain name sales. Sounds very murky at best.
posted by z11s at 4:53 PM on February 17, 2015

If you let the registration lapse, I would assume that a lawyer would be of limited use unless you also had a trademark to go after them with; you have no inherent right to $, after all, and they're perfectly within their rights to grab a lapsed domain. It's kinda crappy that so many squatters use this as a profit center, but I'd wager that unless you're willing to fork over some cash to the current owner of the domain to get it transferred back, you'll have to just wait and hope that they don't renew it either.
posted by Aleyn at 6:47 PM on February 17, 2015

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