Domain names frequently take center stage at various times during an election season. A politician running for President can be burned if he or she doesn’t own the right domain names, especially if someone else owns them and uses them in a manner that goes against the campaign (for examples, see TedCruz.com, CarlyFiorina.org, JebBushForPresident.com, and many other domains that have been in the news).
According to a New York Times Op-Ed article by Maureen Dowd discussing Democratic Presidential primary candidates, “Potent friends of America’s lord of latte, Howard Schultz, have been pressing him to join the Democratic primary, thinking the time is right for someone who’s not a political lifer.” Although the article didn’t quote Mr. Schultz or discuss whether he has an interest in running for the US Presidency, he has access to the most important domain name for a campaign if he were to decide to run for President (or other public office for that matter): HowardSchultz.com.
HowardSchultz.com is registered toStarbucks Coffee Company. If you visit HowardSchultz.com, the domain name does not resolve. In looking at Archive.org, it appears that the domain name has not been used, so I would guess the company bought HowardSchultz.com as a defensive measure. A DomainTools Whois History search shows that the domain name was created in 1999, and Starbucks has owned it since at least 2001, the first DomainTools record archive for the name. Because of that, I do not know if HowardSchultz.com was originally bought by Mr. Schultz or Starbucks, or if the company hand-registered the domain name or bought it from another registrant.
In addition to owning HowardSchultz.com, it looks like Starbucks also owns HowardSchultz.net and HowardSchultz.org. Interestingly, Schultz2016.com is owned by someone else and it has some sort of sign up form that says “Help Support Howard Schultz for President and Sign Up Below.” I don’t believe that domain name is affiliated with Mr. Schultz.
Obviously owning the candidate’s .com domain name is important, and it looks like Mr. Schultz would not have a domain name problem if he does decide to run for political office. I presume there would have to be some type of domain name ownership transfer if HowardSchultz.com were to be used for a campaign since it is currently owned by Starbucks, but that would be another topic for a campaign law expert!