Yesterday afternoon, I posted an article stating why it is important to know who is inquiring about your domain names. Today, I would like to share five methods I use to find out what person or company is inquiring about a particular domain name, both to maximize any potential sale and to prevent any legal issues from arising. As with everything, if you are particularly concerned that a response could put your domain name in jeopardy, you should consult with an attorney who is familiar with IP law and domain names.
6 Ways to Identify a Potential Domain Name Buyer:
1) Google search of the person’s name (in quotes), email address (in quotes) and/or a Whois look up of the domain name he used to communicate with you if it isn’t a free or pay email service. Using Google, you may be able to track his contact information through social networking sites (liked LinkedIn), industry publications, Forbes C-Suite listings, SEC filings, or other public listing. If the person’s name is Edward, Jonathan, or some other commonly abbreviated name, make sure you check all variations in your search.
2) If you’ve been able to get the phone number, either because it’s listed in the email or was provided in a subsequent follow up, do a Reverse Phone Number Lookup to see what company owns the phone number. Follow that up with a quoted search of the phone number in Google if the first way didn’t yield a result.
3) USPTO search to see if anyone recently filed a trademark with the US Patent & Trademark Office. If you see a pending application or recently approved trademark, it is possible that the company is attempting to acquire the domain name. If this is the case, be extra cautious, even if you owned the domain name for many years. If this happens and your name has significant value (more than a UDRP defense would cost as a baseline), I would contact an attorney and have him negotiate on your behalf. There’s no point in risking your domain name simply because it would be a business decision to file a UDRP rather than buy the domain name.
4) If your domain name is developed, you should be able to track the IP addresses of recent visits to your site. Use the Arin Whois Database to do a reverse IP search to see where the visitor originated. It makes things even easier if the person contacted you using a contact form on your developed website, so you can know for certain where the person’s IP address originated.
5) Copy and paste some of the generic offer email in to Google to see if others have posted a similar email, which could mean that its domain inquire spam or possibly a domain name appraisal scam. Often time appraisal scammers will recycle the same or a similar email, and if you find a specific phrase that has been used by a scammer, it can send up a red flag. Perhaps it’s obvious, but you should only use the generic sentences rather than anything specific about your particular domain name.
6) If the email address is really unique – like LuvThemStones@yahoo.com, do a search for “LuvThemStones” in Google. If someone uses a unique handle in an email address, perhaps they use the same handle in online forums. If this is the case, you can possible learn more about this person.
With all of this info, you need to keep in mind that there may be many people who have the same name – and on some occasions, you will find that two people with the same name work in the same industry as well, making it a bit complicated. However, the more information you can find out about a potential buyer, the better.
I was contacted about a domain recently. Felt like a buyer. Back and forth including sharing some stats. Then he disappeared. Your article inspired a quick Trademark search. Hard for me to imagine a business model that files a UDRP as a workaround a domain purchase, but I guess they’re out there. Thanks for the heads up.
PS Here’s a link to the trademark search page.
ARIN will only work for US IPs. Services like http://who.is/ will do lookups globally.
Thanks Elliot for this series of posts. As always your insight is very valuable and will help in negotiating future inquiries.
I don’t know where else to put this comment but trying to sign up for the rss feed was impossible. I got a bunch of error messages and then my computer froze up and I had to stop. Oh well, at least I can always just come here to read.
Thanks for the insight into selling & negotiating.
Short question about selling.
Is it legal to e-mail an offer to sell a domain name to several people that might be interested in buying. Or, do you have to wait for them to find the domain name and contact you first?
Example: http://www.123xyz.com is for sale at $xxx or best offer. Please visit “listing site” to make an offer.
Try this: http://feeds.feedburner.com/ElliotsBlog
It’s working for me.
This is also working: feed://www.domaininvesting.com/feed
Sorry you had troubles… what link did you use?
Wow…What nice tips for identify a potential domain buyer!
Everyone today wants to have a strong online presence and hence wishes to have a personal or a business website. So, they essentially need to buy domain names. However, the real challenge lies in identifying potential customers for that sake.
There are currently some good domain registrars, which are increasing their list of patrons day by day such as Yahoo!, LimeDomains, FatCow etc.
Useful information for sorting out any kind of internet lead, not just for domains.
Is it 6-ways or 5 ways ? Please to correct. btw I like 3 ways.
I found your blog by using twitter. Let me tell you how useful this information is. It is great. I would have never thought about the Reverse Phone you mentioned above. Very cool!
#7. Use http://www.ipinmypants.com
You are very welcome.