“Someone Else Has My Domain Name”

I received an email from someone who told me that a domain name he owned for a long time is now owned by someone else. This was confusing for him because it seems to have come as a complete surprise and he doesn’t understand what happened to their domain name.

I can think of two scenarios for this to happen.

First is a domain theft or hijacking, which is not very common at all. For people who have lost a domain name to theft, I think Stevan Lieberman’s article about recovering a stolen domain name is a good resource. This includes people and businesses who may have hired a web designer who had possession of the domain name and did not return it for whatever reason.

The second scenario, which is far more common and a topic I want to discuss today, is that the domain name expired and was bought by someone else.

When a domain name is not renewed by its registrant (owner), it goes through an expiration cycle. A great resource to learn about the expiration cycle is ICANN, which has published a helpful graphic. Once the domain name has gone through the cycle, it will likely either go to an auction (NameJet, SnapNames, GoDaddy Auctions, DropCatch.com, Pheenix…etc), expire and become available for anyone to register, or perhaps the domain registrar may add the domain name to its own portfolio.

Regardless of what happened after the domain name expired, it’s very likely that someone else registered or bought the domain name. When that happens, the former owner should realize the owner may have spent a significant sum of money to acquire the domain name.

Ultimately, being honest and respectful will go a long way in trying to recover (aka re-purchase / acquire) a domain name that is owned by someone else. The former owner should consider himself lucky if a domain investor bought it instead of an entrepreneur or startup founder. The later types of people would likely place a higher business value on the asset than a domain investor, and a domain investor would likely be more willing to sell the domain name for a fair price.

Tomorrow, I am going to share some tips about negotiating with a domain investor to try and buy back a domain name. I’ve dealt with too many people who think that threatening or making rude comments is going to be helpful, and I think a better approach can help close a deal.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com 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. I once had a web developer tell me,”he need access to my login info for my domain name so he can build my site.” Needless to say I showed him the door. You’re Fired!!!

  2. We have a few of these going on at the moment where the previous owner feels we are not the real owner of ‘their’ domain. It seems more often than not, they are this type:

    Them: You have my domain. Give it back.

    Us: The domain expired and we purchased it at auction.

    Them: No. There was a glitch and we are the legal owner. Give it to me or I’ll take it.

    Us: We purchased it legally in a 15 day expired domain auction in which anyone could have participated and many did. The auction was not a surprise, in addition to being listed at GoDaddy, all website visitors to the domain were notified and directed to the auction.

    Them: GoDaddy didn’t let me renew it.

    Us: GoDaddy gives 18 days after expiration to renew at no extra cost. 42 days to reclaim the domain for a small fee. They also send several emails prior to, during, and after the expiration to give the previous owner the opportunity to renew.

    Them: I registered it first, I came up with it, it’s mine.

    Us: It is a generic non-trademarked term. We are unaware of anyone else’s rights, past or present, associated with the domain.

    Them: I’m in talks with the registrar to get it back. If they can’t I will have ICANN sort it out.

    Us: Ok.

    Them: I have applied for a trademark for the term.

    Us: I don’t see any pending or previous trademarks. Even so, please understand that obtaining a trademark does not grant an owner worldwide exclusive rights.

    Them: If you don’t transfer it to me, I will take legal action.

    Us: I believe the legal outcome would be in our favor.

    Them: I suppose you want me to pay a huge sum to get it back when domains only cost $10. Selling domain names for more than the registration cost is a bunch of BS and should be illegal.

    Them: Fine. How much do you want, how about $100?

    Us: The domain is not for sale.

    Them: As a good faith gesture to avoid a legal battle how about I offer you $1500 for the domain?

    Them: Did you get my last email?

    Them: I haven’t heard back, did you get my last email?


  3. Yes I’ve got some things much like the one discussed above and it is that if the user has been made to believe the site is provided for a year then by all means it should be there’s but at the same time it is a great deal to be professional about the whole thing. Otherwise get a new one at least for now you know you learned a lesson

  4. Great article, Elliot. I wish all new domain registrants were forced to read through this post and comments (it’s shorter than most domain registration agreements that typically get ignored). As an employee of a domain name registrar, I hear this almost daily. It’s sad to see someone lose a domain name, but it could all be avoided if they simply checked their email and properly managed their accounts.

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