What issues need to be considered in choosing and managing a company’s domain names?

Which Name to Register

  • Focus on the company name worldwide.
  • Marketing should decide on which domain names to register, bearing in mind which trade marks the company has registered.
  • If companies are acquired, consider registering domain names if none are already registered.
  • Carry out a domain name search at www.nic.com before trying to register new domain names.

Ownership

  • All domain names should be registered and owned centrally by one company (a holding company).
  • Where it is not possible to register ownership with the holding company (owner needs to be a locally registered company etc) consider which subsidiary should be the owner.
  • If companies are acquired which have already registered domain names – consolidate ownership to the holding company of the acquired company – if there is one. In the long term, after earn outs, or tax implications have been investigated, ownership should be transferred to the ultimate holding company, if possible (check the share purchase agreement for restrictions)
  • No domain names should be owned by individuals. (exception in a few countries where the owner has to be an individual. e.g. Italy)
  • All changes in company names, address etc of the owning company must be forwarded to the domain registry so that they can update their records. It is an offence to have incorrect details at most registries.

Registration

  • Use an external DNS provider to register all domain names, if you have multiple domains.
  • Obtain a costs estimate before registrations are made, if there are multiple registrations.
  • Add all domain names that are to be registered into a domain name portfolio table.
  • Update these tables whenever the registration process has a change in status or any domain name actions are in progress.

External DNS Provider

  • Restrict the number of employees entitled to instruct the DNS provider – they will charge for everything they do.

Domain Name Disputes

  • All disputed matters should be entered into the domain name portfolio table.
  • As the dispute progresses the table should be updated
  • All deadlines for taking actions in dispute matters should be entered into a critical dates book.
  • Local trade mark lawyers usually have to be used to deal with domain disputes due to local restrictions on who can pursue an action with the domain registry and such disputes are often in the local language and local courts.
  • Obtain authorisation from before initiating any dispute procedure.

Renewals

  • A Domain name registration is usually valid in most jurisdictions for 1 – 2 years.
  • Renewals are not automatic and if a domain name lapses someone else can register the domain name.
  • External DNS providers can monitor and renew all domains that they administrate and have on their servers. Any names not on their servers must be monitored by you and the deadlines for renewals must be entered into your critical dates book

Invoices

  • All invoices can be dealt with by the external DNS provider.

Help

For assistance with domain names or any other IT legal issues contact:

irene.bodle@bodlelaw.com
www.bodlelaw.com

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