My email inbox had several Google Alerts this morning linking to a Sonoma Index-Tribune article about an alleged “hijacking” of SVH.com, a domain name that has been owned by Sonoma Valley Hospital. As a result of this alleged domain name theft, the hospital was forced to change its website and email to the SonomaValleyHospital.org domain name.
Here’s an excerpt from the article discussing what happened and how the hospital reacted to this:
“On Tuesday, Aug. 6, at 6:30 p.m., the hospital’s domain svh.com was “maliciously acquired,” said Celia Kruse de la Rosa, the hospital’s communications director.
Hospital CEO Kelly Mather added: “The hijacking of our domain name was surprising and we are finding out, not unusual for highly valuable three letter domain names such as ‘svh.com.’”
When it became apparent that the hospital would not get the domain name returned, they “began migrating all internet connectivity to the new and current domain: sonomavalleyhospital.org (web) and @sonomavalleyhospital.org (email),” de la Rosa said.”
From what I can see, SVH.com had been registered at Network Solutions. The domain name is now registered at a China-based domain registrar called Bizcn.com. Using the DomainTools Whois History tool, it looks like the registrant email changed from a @svh.com email address to a @outlook.com email address at some point between July 2018 and October 2018. It appears the other registrant details went unchanged.
Assuming the registrar is unable to help its client recover the domain name, I think the hospital has two choices here if it wants the domain name back. It can file a UDRP, which is probably the most expedient and cost effective way to get the domain name returned. It could also file an in rem lawsuit in the state of Virginia (where Verisign, the company that operates the .com registry is located) to try and get the domain name returned.
In my opinion, the hospital should connect with a domain name lawyer to discuss its best options to have the domain name returned.
Domain industry attorney Stevan Lieberman wrote about how to recover a stolen domain name, and that has some good advice the hospital might consider taking. Hopefully the hospital is able to recover its domain name swiftly.