Internet Lawyer: Domain Names and How to Avoid Losing Yours

With police speed traps now using cameras, drivers have had enough abuse of the system. Let’s face it. Traffic tickets have little to do with public safety and everything to do with revenue raising. Where I live, the donut patrol sits near affluent shopping centers and stops luxury vehicles because the police know the drivers will pay the tickets. This means that the Internet lawyer, the small business owner, the doctor, etc. get ticketed.

In a metro area where 1 out of 5 residents are illegal aliens, many of whom drive without licenses and auto insurance, three guesses which cars don’t get stopped. The banged-up old Honda with peeling do-it-your-self window tinting, smoke blowing out the tail pipe, and using the spare tire as a regular wheel suddenly turns invisible as it speeds by the cop car. The police know pulling over the driver means extra work but no money for the city.

What’s this have to do with domain names? There’s a guy in another city who got nailed with a $90 speeding ticket. As he did some research online, he discovered that the police department had let its domain name registration lapse. So he registered the domain name and turned it into an anti-speed trap web site. Good for him. Bad for the cops.

But this story is an important reminder to make sure your domain names don’t lapse and get poached by someone else before you have a chance to renew them. It’s expensive to retain an Internet lawyer and try to fight to get your domain name back after it’s been lost or stolen.

Here are some things you can do to protect your domains.

  • Although it may make sense to register speculative domain names for a year, your bread-and-butter profitable sites should be registered for multiple years. Consider doing at least 5 years if you can. That gives you some time to build up the sites without having to worry when the domain name is going to expire this year.
  • Be sure to mark expiration dates on your calender if you don’t have the domains set up for autorenewal. Ideally, you’ll want autorenewal in place too.
  • Verify that your credit card info on file for registration is accurate and conbusiness that the card isn’t going to expire before renewal will take place.
  • Restrict domain name transfers to reduce the risk someone impersonates you to hijack your domain.
  • Make sure your registrar has valid contact info for you, including at least two up-to-date e-mail addresses and current phone number.
  • And if your domain name includes a unique term, consider getting a registered trademark for that term if it qualifies.

For more details, talk about this issue with your Internet lawyer. If you have other tips for domain name protection, feel free to leave them as comments.

Best wishes,

-Mike the Internet lawyer

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Author Mike Young, Esq.

Mike Young has been practicing business and technology law since 1994 and is an angel investor in startups. He's been an entrepreneur since 1988. To get legal help from Attorney Young, click here now or call 214-546-4247 to schedule a phone consultation.

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