Domain Names: A Sneaky Attempt To Take My Name

If you have a domain name(s) that you’ve registered how much
thought have you given to who else might want the name? That
question crossed my mind only in the context of – do I have a
name that others might like to buy or one that could potentially
drive traffic to a website. I was registering many domain names.
Some names I wanted to use myself, some to keep, hoping they
would go up in value, and others to sell as soon as I could find
a buyer. Most of the names I had made up – until it had become
difficult to think of new names that had meaning and were not
very long. When that happened I started registering expired
domain names.

After accumulating several hundred names I decided to take a
break and pondered my next move. I didn’t have to wait long.
Within a week I received a notice from my registrar. It seemed a
registrar in Germany had someone who was transferring one of my
domain names to their account. How could they get away with
that? That was my first experience of having someone steal a
name from me. I had heard of such things, but experiencing them
first hand is much more real.

I quickly emailed my registrar and asked what was going on and
that I had not given anyone permission to take one of my names.
I was told my domain had already been transferred to someone
else. I gave my registrar explicit instructions to cancel the
transfer, which they did immediately, and as soon as I got the
name back they placed a lock on the domain so it could not
happen again.

Confident I had solved the problem, that incident quickly left
my mind, as I had a myriad of other things to do. But no –
things never seem so easy, as I came to realize a couple of
weeks later. I checked my email and there was an email from that
same registrar, where two weeks earlier someone tried to
transfer my domain name. It was a form letter in both English
and German telling me they were transferring my domain name to
their registry. I asked a co-worker who was German to translate
the German language part. She verified that language said the
same as the English version. All my domains were locked so there
was nothing I had to do.

By now I wondered how my name, ~~~~fix.com*, which I made up,
could be so important. I did some quick research on the Internet
and found there was a company in Germany with the name ~~~~fix.
It was starting to aggravate me that if someone wanted my dot
com version of the name why didn’t they just make me an offer
for the name. It seemed awfully suspicious that someone wanted
that name so badly that they would try to transfer it when it
was plainly up for sale. The directory website where that name
was hosted showed a for sale notice along with a price.

I quickly composed a letter and emailed it to that registrar
expressing my thoughts. I also raised the price of the domain
name once I had sent the email. Because I was upset about the
matter I decided to raise the selling price by a factor of ten.
I never received a response from my email and assumed the matter
was closed.

Well, to make a long story short I received three more emails
within the next three weeks, each with attempts to get me to
transfer my domain name to them. The emails included dubious
documentation and said “You must agree to enter into a new
Registration Agreement with us”. I ignored all attempts to sign
away my domain name to the other registrar.

The last four attempts to get me to surrender my domain name all
occurred just after ICANN changed the rules pertaining to domain
names. That new ruling took affect November 12, 2004 making it
easier (in my opinion) for someone to sneakily transfer a domain
name. With the current new rules it seems all you have to do is
not respond to your registrar within five days of them sending
you notice indicating your domain name is being transferred. If
you happen to be on vacation, not respond to your email quickly,
or overlook such email, you may find yourself short a domain
name. If however, your domain name(s) is locked, then you
shouldn’t have to worry about that problem. My impression is
that many registrars are now locking domain names by default so
they cannot be transferred automatically, but you should check
yours to be sure.

All this fuss over a domain name I made up got me thinking about
my rights to my domain name. I checked the Anticybersquatting
Consumer Protection Act, signed by President Clinton, November
29, 1999. I’m no lawyer, but it does not look favorable for me,
even though I made up a name I did not think anyone else had.
I’ll let you the reader check the law and come to your own
conclusion.

There has been no further action on that domain name and it has
been two and a half months since the last attempt to transfer it
away from me. Is this the end of that saga?

* I’ve left out the first few characters for my protection.
Contact me if you must know the exact name.

Charles is a computer programmer and developer turned web
entrepreneur. He has written software for many major U.S.
Corporations as well as written and sold his own software. He is
currently developing a soon to be published website for his many
domain names and another on top-rated eZines. Charles can be
reached via the contact form at www.z-cashflow.com or his
sister’s www.KLTGallery.com.

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