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A friend runs a website with a name like "BlackAndBlueToday.com" (not real name). Recently, she received an email that read like this:

"We recently registered the domain name BlackAndBlue.Today then realized you already had BlackAndBlueToday.com. So, we have set up BlackAndBlue.Today to point to your site if that is acceptable to you."

And they have, in fact. This looks like a danger to me, as if BlackAndBlue.Today were to become the principle domain name by which the site is found, these people could perhaps hold my friend's site hostage.

My questions are:

  1. Is the danger real or just perceived on my part, and

  2. Is there a process for dealing with this kind of situation?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 10 down vote accepted

To answer your question specifically:

  1. If the redirect that they have setup is infact a 301 redirect, then there is actually no danger whatsoever because that tells a search engine that the .com version is the real deal. If they setup an unusual redirect, like a http meta refresh, for instance, with some text on their website that might be trying to hijack your search engine ranking, then, yes, you may have something to worry about as that domain could come to compete with your .com version over time.

  2. The process for dealing with this is only a legal one as the other party may be violating your trademark (registered or implied). A registered trademark always helps your case. I've been in a similar situation before but there are two things to keep in mind here:

    1. You must be able to prove that you have had the domain and business registered before the other party registered its domain or its business online with that domain.

    2. They really must be posing an actual risk to your business or website (in terms of taking away users, search engine rankings or potentially lost business, etc.), otherwise your case is weak, particularly if the trademark is not registered.

Finally, of course, you'll need to get an attorney / solicitor involved. From my past experience, this is, unfortunately, a little about intimidation along with the fact that your demand that they cease to use your domains is a valid one.

A letter from a lawyer might mean they will stop using the domain and de register it or transfer it to you. If it's an international party that won't care about what your lawyer or your court jurisdiction says, the court can order the registrar to cancel the registration or transfer it to you, but for this you really need to have your intellectual property in place.

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To add to the other answers, if the third party was acting in good faith by redirecting their domain to your friend's domain, they might consider transferring ownership of the domain to your friend altogether. If they're not asking for a ransom, the only cost involved would be the price of yearly renewal (as the case may be). The transfer/renewal process would extend the domain registration for one additional year.

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Excellent idea. –  RegularExpression Apr 27 at 16:20

There probably not much one can do about the domain registration and linking the new name to an existing site. As you say, there might be some danger here.

However, in much the same way that one would normally redirect from, say BlackAndBlueToday.com to www.BlackAndBlueToday.com one could redirect any traffic that arrives via BlackAndBlue.Today to www.BlackAndBlueToday.com with a permanent redirect code.

This will guarantee that anyone, including the search engines, sees only the original site and should ensure any bookmarks, etc. are updated accordingly.

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Unlike other answers suggest, you don't control the content. The owner of the other site only temporarily allows you to provide the content. They can switch to providing own content anytime and whoever is using their dns name will supply them with login data, etc.

If the name is good, ask for transfer of ownership, otherwise ask them in a nice way to stop redirecting.

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So you own domain A, someone else bought domain B and set it up to resolve to domain A ( B -> A)?

This sounds rather pointless on their part - they paid for the domain but you control the content. You can display anything you want in B: your own content, the definitive Traci Lords collection, daily thoughts of Pope Francis &/or Edward Snowdon and they are ultimately responsible for it. It is possible to hijack your own site's ratings, but only if you let them.

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A more disconcerting scenario might be that people start using your site through their domain name, and a fair amount of traffic starts coming to your site (maybe they even do some SEO to get traffic moving, but using their domain name) and at some point in the future they point the site back to their own server and start serving malicious content, porn, etc. This could damage your site's reputation and cause much confusion. I'd be wary - start by telling them it's not alright, to please stop pointing at your domain, and see if they go away without a lot of fuss.

And if that doesn't work, then yes, maybe get an attorney to start legal motions.

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