I have a friend (let's say his name is "Fred") who traded some services in exchange for someone (let's say his name is "Sam") to build him a website for his business. Rather than registering the domain name himself, Fred let Sam register the domain name and hosting space through SquareSpace. Now Sam is coming back to Fred saying the trade wasn't a fair one and is holding the domain name ransom.

I'm assuming in this case Sam is the owner of the domain name, and not Fred. Is this a correct assumption? If so, is there any way Fred can get the domain name from Sam, short of waiting until it expires (Sam only registered it for a year) and hoping Sam doesn't register it again?

1 Answer 1


The Registrant of the domain name, that is the party and contact information that the domain registration record corresponds to, is the controlling party.

If Sam used his own personal or business name along with his corresponding contact information during the domain registration, it's under his control. If Sam used Fred's name and contact information, then Fred would be the Registrant and controlling party.

To verify who the domain registration information corresponds to, do a WHOIS lookup on the domain name.

The only recourse for obtaining a domain name registered to another party is filing a Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) based on an existing trademark and other criteria, such as registering the domain name in bad faith.

This is not a an easy or inexpensiveness process however, so Fred might want to consider registering another domain name, which given the plethora of new gTLD's, should not be so constraining to do.

  • 3
    Thanks @dan. When I did a WHOIS lookup, the contact information is protected by contact privacy.com. So, I cannot tell whether or not Sam used Fred's name and contact information when registering the domain. I guess I need to have Fred call the domain registrar to see what the scoop is. Thank you for the info regarding UDRP. The domain name is exactly the name of Fred's company, but I'm not sure if the company name is trademarked.
    – Bryan
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 21:59
  • @Bryan: If Sam is any kind of semi decent/honest developer and was intending to hand it all over to Fred at some point then he should have registered it in Fred's name to begin with. Depending on the domain type and registrar, it can cost (a small amount of) money to change ownership. However, even if Sam isn't currently the legal registrant he probably has the administrative login details - which allows him to do anything anyway, including changing ownership etc.
    – MrWhite
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 1:53

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