Takeover of a registered domain name

We investigate the prerequisites, formulate best procedure and handle the entire process

Someone else owns the domain name we want, what to do?

Do you want to obtain a registered domain name, but do not know which method is the best – the legal way or buying it from the current holder?

It’s not easy to know since it depends on the circumstances in each unique case. Many factors are in play: your legal basis in relation to when the domain was registered, the domain’s historical and current content, the registrant’s potential right to the name and which regulations govern the top domain, (for instance the regulations for Sweden’s .SE differs considerably from the Germany’s .DE).

Background – The domain name in relation to the trademark

From the beginning, a domain name was a technical solution to the problem of navigating online. Today, a domain name is so much more than that. The digitalization has led to domain names having a commercial value, both in terms of strengthening a brand online, but also as a an integral part of e-commerce and/or search engine optimization.

Compared to a trademark, a domain name has many benefits. The registration is swift and there are no territorial limitations. A domain name is also not limited to certain goods or services, usually it enables exclusivity to the specific wording. A domain name can be reached from connected devices worldwide, which further increases its value.

Having a registered trademark does not automatically entitle you to the domain name. As a principle it is first come first served, and the first to register the domain name becomes the owner of the domain name. However, the registration and/or the usage of a domain name may result an infringement on a registered trademark.

The consequences of not being properly protected

Many companies are lacking a holistic view of the domain name and its ability to support and strengthen the brand. Despite the fact that we are living a digital world where an increasing number of people are online. How would a loss of your primary wording online affect you?

As the value of domain names increase, typosquatting (misspellings) and cybersquatting (stealing a brand) becomes increasingly common. This means that there are people that attempt to profit on someone else’s brand by registering domain names with the aim of channelling traffic (usually to questionable sites) and/or selling them. If you can prove that the registrant lacks legitimate interest in the domain name and has acted in bad faith, there is usually a good chance of taking over the domain name legally.

 

How to obtain an already registered domain name

1. Preliminary investigation and recommendation

We always carry out a preliminary investigation to see if all legal prerequisites are met in order to proceed legally. This provides a good view of the situation and prevents unnecessarily spending if the prerequisites are not met. All prerequisites/aspects regarding the specific domain name are analysed and summarised in a report with our recommendation as to the best way to proceed, either legally by claiming rights to the domain name, or by initiating an acquisition. Regardless of the recommended “best procedure” we will of course help you with going forward with the process of obtaining the domain name.

2. Cease- and-desist letter

In a situation when it’s fair to claim that you have more rights to the domain name than the current holder, a cease-and-desist letter to the holder can be sufficient to get the domain transferred to your company. Therefore, we recommend a cease and desist letter as a first step. In connection with this, we ensure both historic and present information about the use of the domain name, meta-tags and other data to be to prove intentional infringement if needed. The Ports Group legal team handle cases on a daily basis where trademark owners regain valuable domain names that wrongly have been registered by other parties. We have experience in handling all top-level domains and know what the requirements have to be met in order to win disputes.

3. Domain name dispute

If you can prove trademark infringement, it’s possible to take over an already registered domain name legally, through a dispute settlement. Each country has their own rules and in many cases there is a simplified settlement procedure for domain names. We have experience from dispute settlements in national as well as international authorities, and have successfully helped many companies reassert control over hijacked domain names. When the dispute is won, we help you with the transfer of the domain name, the change of ownership and secure that the rights holder information is updated at the registry (registry = the organisation responsible for the top domain, for instance the IIS foundation for the top domain .SE).

Alternative way - Acquisition of an already registered domain name

Sometimes the only way to acquire a domain name is to simply buy the domain from the current registrant. Ports Group has more than two decades of experience in handling domain name acquisitions. We are with you the entire process; from formulating a budget, tracking down the current owner and negotiating the purchase price, to carrying out the transfer of domain name and purchase sum, transfer of domain name as well as securing the update of rights holder information. With our long experience from purchases, and the possibility for the buyer to be anonymous, we can often keep down purchase costs.

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