The links you have there just about say it all... send a C&D letter advising that a trademark is being infringed upon and make note that it's also possible to seek damages against the infringer (attempting to hold the name comes at a cost). C&Ds are taken more seriously when from a lawyer....
Unfortunately your next step will most likely have to be a UDRP which costs money but, as long as they rule in your favor, you get the name back...
Bad situation to be in. Basically the only recourse is some kind of legal action via UDRP or civil suit.
If the domain name has been registered under that person's name then he/she would be considered the rightful owner. The registrar is not going to interpose between parties in a private dispute.
If the webdesign work is documented you could sue for breach of trust..
UDRP is a possible venue if there is a case of trademark infringement. It's going to cost low $,$$$ that is the amount of ransom..
At this point you may consider a C&D through a lawyer then decide the next steps...
Thanks for the advice. I am going to advise her to have her attorney write a Cease and Desist letter that mentions breach of trust in it as well as documenting the many lies he has told her in regard to her domain name. Hopefully that will do the trick.
Does anyone have a link or two that we could point the rogue webmaster to that show him in plain language that he is violating the law by holding hostage someone else's domain that matches their business name? Or perhaps a write up to a case or two that are similar in nature? I think that may be enough for him to think better of what he is doing. He is basically a two-bit weasel trying to squeeze a couple grand out of a failed business relationship and I think he will get scared if he realizes he is playing with fire.
Also, I have heard about Godaddy seizing/releasing domain names that have been acquired under false pretenses, or under fake names or addresses etc. Do you think that there is any percentage in approaching Advanced Internet Technologies with that information? Or are we potentially screwing ourselves by tying the name up?.
From everything Ive read, godaddy will not get involved unless you send them a copy of the UDRP complaint. When that is done, they will freeze the name and charge the current owner $30 or so while the complaint is being addressed...
UDRP Fees are approx $1600 + lawyers fees. So the pragmatic thing to do would be to send a C&D and then negotiate the price with the owner, via Escrow.com for safety. Start at maybe $100 to cover his expenses...
The owner sent him a $200 check right off the bat to cover his expenses and transfer the name.
He renewed registration of the name 2 years ago at a cost of $150, to my understanding under the pretense of having to protect the name from domain squatters. In addition she has been paying yearly registration fees. She had no idea about these things and he has been taking advantage of her.
He rejected the $200 and said he would only release the name for $2000.
He is blatantly extorting the owner for her own name and I have to believe he is setting himself up for punitive damages.
I just wrote her an e-mail telling her to write the cease and desist letter and we'll see where it goes from there. I just wish I could find some cases where people who have done similar acts have gotten nailed for big bucks so he could see the folly of his ways...
Webmaster is guilty of 'conversion'..
File a civil suit.
UDRP won't get her anywhere, BlowDaddy won't do anything either.
Do Not have her write the C/D herself. At the least, hire an attorney to do it so it scares the bejeezers out of him... coming from the site owner, it would be laughable... coming from H.J. BigDawg ESQ., it will have the appearance of teeth.
DO be prepared to file a case if compliance is not made...
The registrant of the domain name is the rightful owner; everything else is a private dispute beyond the remits of the registrars etc. Unless it is an issue of principle and the lady in question has got a lot of money to spend for legal fees etc, my sincere suggestion would be either to forget the name or pay $2000 and acquire it amicably. Every other route is costly, time-wasting and sometimes painful; not necessarily the outcome would be in your favour...
Just to be clear the domain is registered with Advanced Internet Technologies, I just used Godaddy as an example of a registrar that I understood would yank or freeze a disputed name.
@Cartoonz, this guy has definitely "converted" this name, taking money from the owner to register it for her then registering it under his own name. That will make it into the C&D letter.
@Jawed, I appreciate your input. The ship sailed on amicably settling this dispute at any price. He simply does not want to release the name. He is pissed that she no longer wants to work with him. He is a really shady character.
To a certain degree it is a matter of principle, but we are thinking pragmatically as well. We have already moved on to a similar domain name in the interim, but there are e-mail addresses, advertising, and inbound links etc. tied to the original domain name so we can't just wash our hands of it without trying to gain control of it.
I think if we initiate litigation he will give the name up. This guy has no money to speak of and can only lose, even if he wins, which I don't think he can. The only question is how smart he is or isn't. If he was really smart he would have taken the original $200 check and let this matter go!.
@Namepros Community: Thanks again for your advice! I'll post again when there are further developments.
Looking forward to the results.
No matter whether if it's AIT or GD... the suggestions for starting with a C&D letter (ideally from a lawyer) are good... if that doesn't work, then UDRP - even though the UDRP fees combined with lawyer fees will probably exceed the $2k...
Would be the best strategy.
Then I'd just get another name and start over. You might find some cases here.. ICANN | Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy..
UDRP would be a complete waste of time and resources. She does not have a TM on the name. End of that story.
Settle it for the $2k or get a lawyer and pray he gets it done for less.
You will, at the very least, need to have an attorney compose and send the C/D... any other way of doing it will only make the schmuck laugh...
In my view, UDRP is not an appropriate route for this type of matter.
You can try sending a C&D (preferribly sent by an attorney) to the person and hope they follow-through with the demand of handing it over.
Another option is getting the registrar AIT to change the whois to your client - it's a longshot, and is predicated on there being some obvious connection, either presently or in the past, of the domain to your client (ie. the registrant's name, postal address, or something like that) when it was first registered / transferred-in to AIT.
Or negotiate with the person and buy the domain, because persuing most any legal avenue will likely cost many hundreds, or more likely, thousands of dollars. So if they're seeking $2000, with some persuasion, they might accept $1000, $500, or perhaps even less.
On a related topic, be careful ... you mention "We are worried he will try to damage her business as he is hosting their current website and e-mail." He could also go after your business and cause you problems...
And the client, while highly unlikely, could potentially take legal action against you if, for example the domain resolves to client website now, but then after you got involved, it no longer does; you may be getting in over your head, as you even acknowledge in your first post.
Hope this helps.
One thing to think about: Domaintools may have archived whois data for the domain name. Even if the whois was changed later, there may be a trace that the domain used to be in your name (this is if you need back-up evidence).
UDRP has sometimes been used to recover stolen domains (hijacked accounts) but normally the procedure only deals with domains with trademark issues..
IMO... find a lawyer that will scare him out...