Did you know that you can lose your digital piece of real estate, even without an eviction notice? Imagine losing everything in a single heartbeat: your business, your brand equity, your traffic and your source of income ... Without your knowledge or consent!
That's what happened to many unfortunate online business owners, lately. Specifically, a stunning controversy has emerged, which all Internet marketers and business owners should pay very close attention to. If you own an online business, be extra careful.
VeriSign, online security company, is now not only a domain name registrar but also company that runs master domain database (.com's, .net's and .org's). It's a responsibility once held by Network Solutions (since acquired by Verisign) conferred to them by ICANN. Is this monopoly a good thing? Apparently not.
If you neglect to pay your mortgage, for example, you lose your home. But this only happens after you've received several "past due" notices from bank and still failed to make your payment on time. (That's OK, since your physical address never changes.)
Similarly, most domain name registrars will notify you by email when it's time to renew. But what happens if your email address is wrong? What happens if your postal address has changed? What happens if you're on vacation away from your computer? And what happens if you simply overlooked notification?
If so, you're probably out of luck.
According to Janet Kornblum in a USA TODAY article, you can lose your "digital home" without ever getting an eviction notice. Says Kornblum, "What if you just came home from work, one night, and found new owners sitting in dining room, eating your food?"
That was case with a few business owners whose domain names, which were registered through VeriSign, expired and were quickly snapped up by other people, putting original owner right out of business in a blink of an eye! VeriSign is not only one, too. Some registrars fail to even send a single renewal notice!
(One lawyer became aware -- when it was too late -- that his URL for his law practice website lead to a porn site. Not only did he lose all that business and traffic, but he also had to deal with a much bigger loss: his good name, and not just name itself.)
If domain name is a registered trademark, chances are greater that original owner can have it returned -- but that does not take into consideration time and money required for legal process, as well as potential business wasted during wait along with incalculable damage caused to company's brand.