How I got my domain name back from cyber squatters

ZackKatz.com was Zack Katz's music website
I was given the domain zackkatz.com for my 17th birthday by my mom. It turns out, it was a good gift 🙂 I used it as a blog, music promotional area, and art gallery. I owned the domain (and let it stagnate) until around 2006, when I wanted to switch hosts. I waited for my domain to expire so that I could transfer it to another host (I was lazy!).  Well, it was registered out from under me, and I lost my domain.

The following is a brief summary of how I got my domain back:

I immediately contacted the register, told them that cybersquatting is a crime.  I wrote the following email to name.net:

I am writing to you in regards to the domain zackkatz.com.  I have been the owner of the zackkatz.com domain for over 5 years. My intention was to renew my domain, but I discovered that your company, name.net, have registered it in order to sell it at a profit.  I believe you have registered this domain in bad faith.  I am prepared to take this matter to the National Arbitration Forum to have it resolved, so I am copying them on this email.  I would, however, rather deal with your company personally and work out a fair compensation for the return of my domain.

I have included below the section of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy that applies to your registration of my domain:

Evidence of Registration and Use in Bad Faith. For the purposes of Paragraph 4(a)(iii), the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:

(i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

(ii) you have registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

(iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location.

Please contact me immediately regarding this matter.

They responded with the following:

It appears this domain name was registered through our company by a customer of ours. We are not the owner of this domain. The name was only registered through us. The contact details of the domain name holder are available in the whois at this time. It appears that the registrant of this domain is currently parking their name.

An “inquire about” link is provided on this domain parking page. Individuals interested in the purchase of a parked domain are welcome to make an offer using this link. This does not mean the current domain holder is necessarily selling the domain, nor does it mean they have authorized any third parties to sell them.

If you have a trademark on this domain, it is possible that the domain name holder broke our registration agreement. Our regulations on infringing domains are quite strict and we do our best to solve issues. We would be happy to discuss this issue further. Please let us know how we can be of further assistance.

Thank you,
Rick
Name.net
[email protected]

I didn’t get it back, but they sold the domain

So I waited for a few months, and lo and behold, the domain was sold to a “Traffic Monetization Firm” that was using my site as an ad spam website (you know those sites with a bunch of ads…yeah, my domain was one of those for a while).

My domain had a link to “Make an Offer on this Domain,” and I offered them $10…I wanted to see what they were going to do. They wanted $150.00. 

I countered with an offer of $100.00, which they accepted. I was not willing to pay $100.00 for my domain back. So I just waited. The offer expired, and they didn’t renew their registration.

Make an offer they can refuse.

I believe the last straw for this company was me offering them money, them accepting the offer, and me never taking them up on it. 

If you want your stolen domain back (and don’t want to go through a legal battle), make offers on your website, then let them expire.  I believe this was a major contributor to me getting my domain back.

Update: After getting some feedback, this is apparently not good advice.  I am a web designer/developer, not an IT/domain professional. If you want your domain back, don’t let it expire!

What now for zackkatz.com?

I think what I’m going to do is have zackkatz.com be my (Zack Katz) personal blog, while Katz Web Design will be my business site. I could have zackkatz.com point to a subdomain, like zack.katzwebdesign.net…

The moral of the story is that 1 year later, I have my domain back. Thank goodness!

Author: Zack Katz

Zack Katz is the President of Katz Web Services and the developer of WordPress plugins with over 700,000 downloads. He lives in Southwest Colorado with his wife and two cats.

7 thoughts on “How I got my domain name back from cyber squatters”

  1. Congratulations on getting your domain back. I would be seriously ticked if someone did that to me, but the problem I see that happened with you was letting your registration lapse.

    Didn’t the new host you were considering offer the option to switch your domain to go through them? I know it’s possible because when I purchased hosting they gave me the option of switching registration through them rather than where I had purchased it. I didn’t go with the option because I liked where I currently was paying for my domain from, but I do know it exists. And doing it that way I don’t think it would have needed to lapse first.

    In the end it’s good to hear you did end up with it back. 🙂

  2. You know, it’s my fault that I let it lapse — what I didn’t realize was how quickly the squatters would buy the domain!

    I will never make that mistake again, of course.

  3. Hey Zackie, Good for you, man. But you should extention the new registration’s expiring date till infinity – at least, stretch it for 10 yrs reg. before the name drops again. Do it now! before you miss the next renewal date,.
    Good luck

  4. Pingback: Man Gets Lucky, Then Dispenses Bad Advice : Resources for Webmasters
  5. First: I was happy I got my name back after a debacle. I had my mind on other things and didn’t focus my attention to my domain management – I was more focused on my job and my life. Happens to a lot of people.

    Second: I realize it was my fault. My being ignorant was perhaps not emphasized enough in the post.

    Third: I made the offer for my domain to test the waters. I then realized that $100 is better spent on something other than a domain I have no immediate plans for.

    Fourth: It was a good lesson to learn. It’s learned.

    Fifth: I got lucky. Cool.

    I was sharing my experience, whether it was an informed experience or not.

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