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Domain Name Ownership

Brand names aren’t just for household products or cars. A brand is your identity wrapped in a name or symbol. For a dog breeder or kennel, the brand is something you attach to the name of every pup that is registered out of your business. When a business sets up a website, often it uses its brand name as the domain name in the URL. What many small business do not know is even though they have registered their domain with their brand name, they may not actually own their domain.

Of course it’s mine. I paid for it. It’s my business name. Right? Not exactly. Unless you registered the domain yourself in your name, you may not own it. Several well known kennels have lost the use of their domain name because they were not listed as the “Registrant”. Instead, the web developers who registered the domain name for the kennels claimed themselves as the registrant and owner of the domains. When the kennel owners who had been using their brand name domains for years wanted to change to a different web host, they found out they didn’t own their own web URL. The web developer either refused to hand over ownership or held it ransom for a large sum.

To prevent an issue like this arising, you can take the bull by the horns and register your own domain name. In the past, you had to be a technical-type to register your domain but now the registration firms take care of those details for you. For a small monthly fee they hold onto it for later use.

If you do allow a web developer or web hosting service to register your domain for you, you should have a signed contract stating that ownership of the domain is yours even if they renew it on your behalf. They should also give you the ID and password of your account on the domain registrar website.

Finally, if you lost your domain to an unscrupulous web host or developer, you may have the law on your side. Domain squatting, theft by deception, and domain extortion may be illegal in your state. Consult with an attorney about pressing charges, bring forth a civil suit, or even going to small claims court.

Want to see if you really own your domain? Visit:
Don’t panic if you see it’s registered to a “Proxy”. This is just a setting to protect your privacy but it does mean you’ll need to log into the account used to register the domain to verify the details.

Christie Bliss and Karl Grindley

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