Use Caution When Responding to Domain Inquiries

Every day, people receive inquires on their domain names. People ask if specific domain names are for sale and some make offers while others ask the domain owner at what price he would sell the domain name. Now more than ever, it’s important to carefully consider how you respond to domain inquiries. Andrew reported on the UDRP today, and the panel had one startling opinion:

“Complainant offered to buy the disputed domain name from Respondent for $500-$5000.   Respondent’s engagement with Complainant in these offers and counter-offers is evidence of bad faith registration and use.”

So there you have it. If someone inquires about your domain name and you engage in offers and counter offers, you could put the domain name at risk. In my opinion, this is a crock!

Everything I own is for sale at the right price. If someone came to my apartment and asked to buy it, of course I would tell him that I’d sell it for the right price. If he offered me double the book value because he really wanted it, I would sell it ASAP and rent another apartment while my wife finishes graduate school. I am not looking to sell it and don’t want to sell it, but if he was making offers that made it worthwhile, I would consider it, despite the inconvenience it would cause.

Likewise, I would sell my domain names and websites for the right price. I don’t wish to sell any of my geodomain names right now, but I am trying to build a business to make money. If that involves selling my business and domain name for a considerable profit, sure I would consider selling it. I don’t see how negotiating the sale of a domain name or a business implies bad faith ownership of it.

I really think that the decision is poor, and the language in its findings sets a very bad example that domain owners need to consider. Fortunately, one decision doesn’t necessarily mean others will follow, but it sure should be noted for the next time you receive an offer to sell a domain name.

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. So what is the correct response to an inquiry? NOT FOR SALE. Is that in good faith? Or no response at all. What is the solution? This news is disturbing and confusing.


    • @ Dan

      I agree. Because I have seen similar cases before, I am very cautious when I receive an offer for my developed domain names. Usually I say that it’s not for sale because it isn’t. If the buyer seems serious about buying it and it’s a significantly valued domain name, it might be a good time to seek the opinion of an attorney to make sure you aren’t putting your name at risk. It will also show the potential buyer that you aren’t messing around.

  2. I agree, if you are the legitimate owner of a domain, why can’t you respond to people’s inquires to buy it and negotiate a price? How can this be bad faith? It’s no different than if someone were to inquire about buying your car or house.

  3. HEY! Give me the keys to your car because most of the time your not using it…and if I ask you if it’s for sale and you say sure for the right price then sign the title over too.

    all your stuff belong to us.

  4. El, doesn’t this raise red flags that ICANN may be “loading up the cannon” and pointing it at domainers?

    If someone ASKS to purchase your domain name, it’s your right, without jeopardy, to be able to respond in the affirmative with the price you want if you “were” to decide to sell the domain. Everything has a price, everything is for sale. Period.

    If you weren’t directly soliciting the name to the complaintant, and THEY were soliciting you, this then makes a logical thinking person acting as an arbitrator to say “someone wants a domain they didn’t grab when they should have. He who hesitates is lost…”. Respondent wins.

    Bingo. Hello to ICANN for a basic outline of logical guidelines: Don’t come up with an idea three years after a domain name was purchased by someone else, and then try to TM your company’s online presence based on someone else’s “domain property”.

    For example: Has ICANN’s brilliant arbitrators ever thought of this deceptive practice:

    -A new company finds a website online during a random search for their competitors’ prodservs, and says “Wow, what a cool domain name, it describes exactly what our prodservs are. It looks like the idiot is just parking the domain. Let’s nab that name for our company, TM it, and then trick them with offers to buy, so we can use their response against them later in a UDRP…”

    This is a viable scenario that ICANN should consider, and I don’t doubt that it hasn’t happened. If they don’t, then maybe ICANN and their individual members should be investigated by the Justice Department. Wouldn’t that be interesting? It’s not that hard to start… A few more missteps by ICANN in these UDRPs, complaints by the domain industry and that will be the next knock on the door for everyone involved in ICANN UDRP decisions. We’re talking about rulings that literally ROB investors of their property.

    The arrest of the idiot who stole creates all sorts of legal interpretations of domain ownership, and I bet that “governing bodies” such as ICANN will need to look a lot closer at their decisions in UDRPs. You can steal a domain in many ways.

    Am I the only one who sees this?

  5. This decision is insane; it turns capitalism on its head, and is so illogical and whimiscal, if it weren’t so scary, it would be laughable.

    Is there an appeal process? If this case becomes a precedent, there is no more domain business.

  6. Some arbitration panelists can be incredibly inept. This case qualifies as perhaps the worst NAF decision ever, if not one of the worst.

    I am certain there have been numerous opposite rulings (in similar cases) in which mere negotiations, or “for sale” status, were found to not be evidence of bad faith.

  7. Bob Kiely said: If this case becomes a precedent, there is no more domain business.

    Well i’m starting to believe that’s ICANN intention, get the domainers out of the way, and let’s “sell” domains to big companies.

    I believe that more and more domainers will start turning to ccTLD’s where ICANN has no power, or very little.

  8. Why not request a phone number from your potential buyer and take the conversation “offline” and onto the phone line. If they are serious they will talk and if not you may have an idea of their real intention…Good Luck

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