Yesterday afternoon, I wrote an article detailing a couple of ways a domain name may go under new ownership, unbeknownst to the former owner. I suppose because of the surprise of this, sometimes these former owners have a poor attitude when discussing their former domain name, and that is not helpful to a negotiation.
I thought I would share a few tips to help former owners try and reacquire their lost domain names via negotiation with the new owner:
Be professional – Being an a-hole is not going to win you any points with the new owner, and it will likely lead to a breakdown in negotiation. When someone gets confrontational with me about a domain name my company rightfully owns, I generally completely ignore the person or have my General Counsel take over. I don’t have the patience to deal with people like that.
Know your rights – If the domain name is descriptive and it expired because an old email address was used as the contact email at the registrar, chances are good that the former owner doesn’t have rights to the domain name anymore. Making idle threats is pointless and immediately puts the domain owner on the defensive. Many won’t respond further. If the domain name exactly matches a trademark, the former owner may have more rights to the domain name, but it can be costly to litigate.
Be honest about what happened – Chances are good that a mistake was made if the domain name accidentally expired. Own up to mistakes. Most domain owners can easily do a Google search to verify if what you are saying is true. If you say that you had a major website on the domain name and are losing money (and the ability to feed your family) and I see no Archive.org footprint, Google results, or Screenshot.com images that show a website, I am going to assume you’re lying. Mistakes happen, and I am usually willing to work something out.
Be prepared to pay – The new owner of the domain name paid for the rights to buy it. The domain name may have been hand registered, or it may have been auctioned for thousands of dollars. Do a bit of research before contacting the owner to see if you can find out the sale price. This would be a good starting point in a negotiation. NameBio is a good place to start to find sale data.
It is very important to understand that many domain names that are bought upon expiration were bought for a considerable sum of money. If I paid $500 for a domain name at an auction, there’s no way I am going to sell it for $100, regardless of why the domain name expired. Now perhaps we can work out a fair price if you’re honest with me and willing to compensate me fairly, but don’t lie, threaten my company, or be a jerk about things.
What else would you recommend?