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We had a website produced a few years ago with a .ORG domain name. The site hadn't grown with our needs, so we've now got a new .co.uk site.

Our intention was to transfer the .org address to the new site on completion.

Our new site is to go live soon, but the original .ORG site has gone offline (hosting expired I believe, as the expiry date for the .ORG is in 2012) and we now discover that the .ORG domain name is registered to the web designer and not to anyone in our organisation.

The WHOIS information gives us the technical contact as discountasp.net.

What are the steps we can take here? Our primary concern is getting the name servers changed (the current .ORG address goes nowhere) and ultimately we need to transfer ownership.

The organisation in question is a community, non-profit organisation, so our pockets are not deep.

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2 Answers 2

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Lawyer up - seriously, just-in-case. I'd try contacting him first to see if you can negotiate transfer amicably, discountasp may be able to help you establish contact.

Worst case would be refusal, probably on the assumption that you'd bring cash to the table. To seize control of the domain will otherwise probably require legal intervention, e.g. to prove that it is your trademark for example, or that the domain name was created as part of the contract to create the website - i.e. your intellectual-property, just improperly registered.

The legal path can be very complicated, so you should weight your options carefully, it may be cheaper to pay him off, or abandon the effort altogether.

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Hi, contacting him is the problem - can't find him to ask. Literally, no idea where he is or how to contact. His name is just too common for a social media search (think "John Smith"). I'm sure he would transfer if we could get hold of him. Thanks for your advice. We're currently talking to the hosting company to see if they can help. –  Stuart Feb 26 '11 at 8:45

Unless you ended on really bad terms or had something in your contract that stated your designer would own the domain, he'll probably transfer it to without issue. I'd recommend checking your .co.uk domain to make sure you own it now before the next site goes up.

As Stephbu mentioned legally you would have to prove that he registered it on your behalf and you are the rightful owner.

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Thanks. The current designer has just moved away, and we have no way of contacting him, so if we could find him we could certainly transfer. Current .co.uk is in our names (we built the website ourselves). Useful comments :) –  Stuart Feb 26 '11 at 8:43

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