A while ago a long standing client emailed me and asked me to register an Australian domain name identical to the .com name used by one of his competitors. The name was a combination of the suburb the businesses were in and the type of service they both provided, so there wasn’t any trademark or copyright issue.
But, when I checked the status of the domain, I learned the registration had recently expired and the name had not yet been released. I explained to my client that this was a measure put in place by AuDA to protect those businesses who hadn’t kept their contact details up to date and allowed a domain name registration to expire. After the 30 day grace period, if the previous registrant hasn’t renewed, the name will be released at a random time in the following seven days and is available for registration on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.
We weren’t sure if the other business had ever registered the domain name. The Whois listing at Ausregistry didn’t make any reference to that business and the domain name didn’t feature in any of their advertising.
Nevertheless, it seemed likely that the competing business was the previous registrant and the owners were probably taking the necessary steps to re-register the domain name. So, I went about my usual business without giving the matter too much thought, but not before I flagged the message for a follow up in a month’s time…
A month later, when the reminder popped up on my screen, I took a minute to check the availability of the domain name – it had been released. A short email to my client confirmed his continued interest in the domain name and 5 minutes later the registration was complete.
I soon learned that the other business HAD asked their hosting provider to renew the domain name. But, because the name had been registered with another reseller the domain password wasn’t available. The original reseller was no longer in business and emails to the contact address were not being answered.
I learned this from the business charged with renewing the domain name on behalf of my client’s competitor, who happens to supply hosting and other services to my client and his competitor. It looked messy for a while, but eventually the dust settled and everyone got on with things, all the wiser for the experience.
So what is the moral of the story:
Business Owners – If you pay someone; an ISP, Web Developer, Hosting Provider, your brother-in-law who knows more about computers than you do, anyone at all, to register a domain name on your behalf, make sure YOU are listed as the primary or secondary contact for the domain name. This means you remain in control of what can be a very important part of your business.
Web Professionals – If someone pays you to register a domain name, make sure your client is the primary contact and you are the technical contact. This keeps you in the loop but allows your clients to continue running their businesses even if you have moved on to bigger and better things by the time renewal rolls around.