Provenance More Clear on Expiry and Drop Catch Auctions

Tracking the provenance of a domain name has gotten much more difficult in the last several years. GDPR and registrar changes (like GoDaddy removing public facing Whois records) make it impossible to match an email address to a Whois record, particularly when a broker or seller approaches a buyer offering to sell a domain name. For instance, if I buy a GoDaddy-registered domain name from someone who acquired it in 2018, it would not be possible to see the email address of the registrant now or in 2018.

An unclear provenance on a domain name adds more risk to domain name acquisitions.

The issue of provenance almost disappears when it comes to expiry and drop catch domain name auctions. When I buy an expired domain name on GoDaddy Auctions or NameJet, I know that the registrant let the domain name expire for some reason that doesn’t really matter. Likewise, when I buy a fully expired and deleted domain name at DropCatch or NameJet, the same thing is true.

In terms of provenance, not only can I show a typically public auction record, but I am also able to show a purchase receipt from the auction platform which identifies the acquisition as an expiry or drop catch auction. Further, when it comes to deleted domain name auctions, the Whois creation date is very recent, limiting the provenance of a domain name even further.

One thing to keep in mind is that the issue of provenance is not eliminated simply by buying a domain name at auction. Most auction platforms allow private sellers to list their domain names for sale. I do not believe auction platforms do enough due diligence on the provenance of a domain name. As far as I know, most platforms simply confirm the current registrant email is the same as the auction seller. These auctions are typically identified as a private seller auction in some manner. Buyers must still do their own due diligence on these auctions.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. That why we need to know who the bidders are in auctions like Ebay.
    Most of the auctions are rigged, scams-bot bidders, insiders , or paid bidders
    Have you seen a domain sold with just one bid??

  2. Let us not forget use yes use. I know that you Elliot know as much or perhaps more on the importance of past use. Doing our research not just on ownership verification but use is extremely important. Knowing a domains history even if free of infringing behavior plays a huge role as well.

    In saying that though some of the bigger players in the industry who buy on the drop make it clear past use be damned. You cannot imo buy in mass on a regular basis and be doing your due diligence. Or allowing bots to buy for you.

    It is likely a calculated risk I admit but not a model the average Joe should follow.

    I am curious how Frank was approaching his buying on drops, I know he said he liked the added security of buying from a drop but in terms of research. Was it on every name, most, nearly none….

    I realize this reply strays from past ownership verification alone but it plays a role.

    I found this out myself the hard way once about 15 years ago. I purchased a good domain, short two words and wholesale value was $10k. I was approached by a very well known company who sold beauty products and was entertaining a $35k purchase price and would lead to a national TV commercial/campaign which did eventually run for years. During their due diligence it was discovered many years prior the former owner used it to display “adult” type ads. That killed the deal right there.

    Take care

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