Ownership of a domain isn’t always as straightforward as it might seem. The owner of a website’s name is usually the website owner, but there are some instances that can cause confusion and potential problems to arise.
What is a dispute over a domain name?
A domain name dispute is a disagreement over who owns the rights to a registered website’s URL. Registering a domain name is on a first-come-first-served basis and over 25 million new names are registered every year. Just because a company may have registered their brand name years ago, does not mean they’re entitled to the matching domain name. If someone already has it, an alternative must be sought. In some cases, larger companies have put pressure on smaller ones to relinquish their domain names because of domain name similarities.
Cybersquatting is when a domain is registered but the website isn’t active. Someone may buy domain names believing they could be popular and valuable to someone in the near future, with the intention of reselling them at a greatly inflated price. This happened in the case of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
Ways to prevent a domain name dispute
In the first instance, it’s important to purchase the required domain name yourself. It’s recommended to use a personal email address when doing so. When using a registrar, such as names.co.uk, you’ll be able to search potential domains and see what’s available. Ensure your details, from your personal email to your business telephone number and street address, are always updated. If any potential dispute issues arise, your domain registrar will need to be able to contact you.
Steer clear of third parties and avoid unwittingly giving away your domain name. If someone requests an IP tag change, ask for the reason and proceed with caution.
If your domain is due to expire, make sure you have a renewal plan in place to avoid any downtime. If you decide to allow it to expire, ensure any accounts, business details or personal information are removed in case someone purchases the domain name and finds that it’s still attached to your accounts.
If in doubt or you find yourself in the middle of a dispute, seek advice professional advice. You may be able to use the country’s official registry, such as Nominet for .UK domains, to help work through a dispute.