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MDLaw, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 6135
Experience:  Experience in business law, contract law and related matters.
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My name is ***** ***** my company is Kitchens by Kerrie

Customer Question

Hi! My name is ***** ***** my company is Kitchens by Kerrie (now of) Sarasota, LLC. I purchased my domain name years ago. I failed to renew, an accidental oversight, it was an auto-renewal and the card had expired. I lost my domain name for my failure to pay. "Thankfully" my graphic designer purchased it. However, I have had a falling out with him and now he has shut down my website and refuses to give me back my domain name for my business. I have owned my business and original domain name for 8 or so years. I brought in a shady business partner for 1 year and expelled him from my company. I purchased the website and hired the designer prior to the shady business partner, but they became buddy-buddy. I would love my website back and domain name.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  MDLaw replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for using the Just Answer website. I look forward to assisting you.
Expert:  MDLaw replied 2 years ago.
Was your domain name your business name?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Expert:  MDLaw replied 2 years ago.
So it was KitchensbyKerrie?
If I am reading correctly, you never officially trademarked your name. Is this correct? Also, are you only located in Sarasota or do you do business nationwide?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I started my business, Kitchens by Kerrie and purchased that domain name in 2007 (ish). I hired a web/graphic designer, James Dunkley, in 2011? ( I will get exact dates if needed). Prior, I already had a website for designed by ***** *****. My credit card expired and I failed to renew my web address. James Dunkley ("my" graphic designer) purchased my domain name. I have been Kitchens by Kerrie for 10 plus years. I had a very bad business partner for 1.5 of those years. He is expelled from the company and the company now operates as Kitchens by Kerrie of Sarasota.
Expert:  MDLaw replied 2 years ago.
Just to clarify, is your answer a no to my question about the trademark? I also asked if you do business nationwide or only in one region?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I aplogize, I sent the above prior to your message; I am located in Sarasota, FL. I have not trade marked my name.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I have done business from Hawaii to New York; but mainly Florida.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No, I don't have a trademark. I do businesses only regionally.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Expert:  MDLaw replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for the clarification.
Cybersquatting, in many cases, is illegal. (AntiCybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999). However, generally speaking, you would need to prove that you had a name that was trademarked and also that the new registrant acted in bad faith.
If you never registered the name of your business, then you would have a more difficult time winning a lawsuit against the individual who registered the domain name. The good news, however, is that if you have evidence that the individual acted in bad faith, that would help in a lawsuit. With all of that being said, before a domain name is ***** ***** for sale, the registrant is usually notified for a period of months before t is released for sale. Many emails are sent. (I almost lost my own domain a few years ago because my card had expired and I didn't notice the email for over a month because I had wrongly assumed it was spam). That aspect of it would work against you in a court.
What I would normally do in this situation is to determine what the cost of is of suing the individual (lawsuits can get quite expensive) vs the cost of establishing a new domain. That is one of the reasons I asked you whether your business was local or whether it was nationwide. If it's local, you not only would have a harder time winning a lawsuit when you don't have a trademarked name but it might also be easier to find a new domain name for your business.
With respect to the issue of bad faith, if you have evidence documented of bad blood between you and the designer and if you have evidence that the new owner is trying to hold it hostage versus buying the domain because they intend on using it, that works in your favor since bad faith is usually the hardest element to prove in court.
Please note that, in addition to judicial remedies, there are also administrative remedies available through ICANN.
Please let me know if this has answered your question.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you so much for your vey thoughtful answer. I am going to assume that I received multiple emails to renew my website name but casted those emails as spam and did not read them. The fact that my web designer bought my domain name is nuts. It probably has to do with the x partner?
Expert:  MDLaw replied 2 years ago.
It definitely sounds like there was some bad faith on his part, especially if he is not willing it to give it over to you. Don't beat yourself up too much about it though. I know someone who is an attorney and allowed their firm's website to be similarly hijacked by a web designer that has been hired to do the firm's website. This type of thing used to happen quite a lot but the anti cybersquatting statute really helped curb this type of thing. You might want to look into hiring a lawyer just to write a letter threatening possible litigation and that might make the guy change his mind about releasing the site.
Let me know if you need anything else and thank you in advance for your positive rating.
Expert:  MDLaw replied 2 years ago.
Hi Kerrie,
Please let me know if you have any other questions for me. If you do, simply let me know. If you don't, it would be much appreciated if you left me feedback as that is the only way that we experts receive credit for the time we spent assisting you and researching your questions and answers.
Thank you so much in advance for your rating and please do let me know if you should have any legal questions in the future.

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