The Apprentice Domain Name Squatting
Monday, 4th June 2012
If you watched the conclusion of The Apprentice 2012 on The BBC this weekend, you will have seen an interesting twist in Matthew Riley's interview of Jade Nash. Jade had submitted a business plan that included a list of domain names likely to be used by the business and Matthew spotted that one of them hadn't been registered, so bought it. During the interview, there was a brief discussion about how Jade would have to buy the domain name back off of Matthew, who suggested that he might ask for a grand sum of money.
I beg to differ!
I have been involved in many domain name disputes, especially in the UK domain. I have recovered domain names for clients who have had a dispute with their web design agency or hosting company, who have fallen out with a business partner or who found a domain squatter occupying their trademark domain.
Although the decision rests with Nominet in each individual case, this is my personal opinion of how the domain dispute between Nash and Riley would play out. Nash would petition Nominet to say that she shared her desire to buy the domain name with Riley, who then registered it in bad faith in order to sell it back to her at a profit. Nominet would investigate the case and find in favour of Nash, because Riley used the information in the business proposal to register the domain name that he knew Nash required for her business.
The chaps at Nominet are incredibly helpful when it comes to domain disputes and their policy is incredibly fair - if you are using a domain name that someone wants, you are protected from them simply seizing it. Equally if someone is acting in bad faith by squatting on a domain name that infringes on your existing IP, they will intervene.
Obviously, the best course of action is to register domain names early, hold them with a service provider you can trust and put the website up as soon as you can. If things don't go to plan, there is a fair process whereby you can recover your property.