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Some Important Considerations for Domain Name Owners

By Charles L Harmon

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Long and short domain names

As time goes by there are more and more domain names being registered. The internet is still expanding and with it a lot more websites are going online every day. New or expired domain names are being registered or re-registered daily.

Because of this ongoing expansion of the internet there is an increase in the number of domain name owners. One thing new domain name owners may not know about is the International Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) with its Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) and the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). They both are something to be aware of and can present serious dangers to innocent domain name owners. Serious, meaning it is possible to lose your domain name or be slapped with a fine.

So, domain name owners need to do certain things to avoid loss of their domain names;

  • One of the things domain name owners should give attention to is to get a trademark registration that matches their respective domain name. This process is not too difficult since some countries today cater to this service. It is not really required by law to employ a trademark company or even get a trademark, however it might be advantageous if your company has any real value or you feel the need to get extra protection for any reason. I advise consulting an appropriate attorney first before taking this step because it may be unnecessary and it does cost money.
  • The other consideration for innocent domain name owners is the act of keeping the Whois information for your domain name up-to-date. This is considered to be very important since there are cases where a court or the UDRP tribunal ruled against particular domain name owners based its judgment because of incomplete or out of date Whois information.

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    After changing your Whois information for your domain name then check or recheck it to be sure the changes took OK. Also while you are at it, make sure your domain name is pointed to your website’s servers or to your registrar if you are not going to use it right away. The Domain Name System information is what tells you this and needs to be changed if you change hosts for your website.

  • Often domain name owners fail to pay their registration fees, and if this happens to you, you’ll lose your domain name. It is therefore necessary for domain name owners to pay such registration fees to keep their domain names working and up to date. Domain names need to be registered every year but you can usually pay for several years fees in advance.
  • If you don’t pay your registration fee on time there will be a month or so grace period where if you pay it the domain name will revert back to working status. If you don’t pay during this grace period you will lose it.

  • Finally, in cases where someone contacts a domain name owner regarding their domain name or something published on the site that possibly violates someone’s copyright or other legal problem, it is important that they respond and not treat the situation lightly.

It is possible a lawsuit or UDRP complaint could or has resulted. If the domain name owner really receives a UDRP complaint, then they need to respond to the complaint. It seems the majority of UDRP decisions against the domain name owner are default decisions because the domain name owner failed to respond to the complaint.

writing on wallUsually a domain owner will have no problem if he or she keeps the Whois information up to date and pays registration fees on time. It is possible to have copyright problems if you copy other people’s content, images, etc. and put them on your website. That is a no-no. It’s safest to have content written for you or you might want to use PLR content that has been rewritten substantially. It is advisable to have such content Copyscaped to be sure it is not copied. Just stay away from content you add to your website if you do not know the source and you should not have any problems with copyrights and lawyers coming after you.