HugeDomains Stole My Domain Name

HugeDomains Stole My Domain Name

But they’ll never take my freedom!

[This post originally appeared on dennisjohn.net]

My website is was dennisjohn.net.  I picked this as my domain name because .com was already taken.  At the time, I imagined dennisjohn.com was owned by another Dennis John, doing whatever it is that other Dennis Johns do, but decided to check yesterday.  It is not owned by another Dennis John.

A visit to http://dennisjohn.com redirects to a website called hugedomains.com who are selling the domain name dennisjohn.com at the bargain price of $2,395! [Since the time of writing, this has risen to $8595.]  To put this in perspective, dennisjohn.net cost about $10 when I purchased it.  So why the price?

Hugedomains.com buy/own hundreds of thousands of domain names (mainly .com as these are more ‘valuable’) and sell them at massively inflated prices.  And the price of dennisjohn.com is low on their standards; strapvelcro.com costs $38,000 while micrometeorite.com will set you back a cool $50,000.  Bear in mind that these are just the prices for the domain names – you will still have to build, host and maintain your own website.

So while this corporate cybersquatting is clearly big business (HugeDomains are also selling glossary.com for a mere $7,500,000), these business practices are not illegal.

Cybersquatting is purchasing a domain name that could be passed off as an existing entity (usually a company) with the intent of selling it to said entity for a high mark-up or using it for malicious purposes; like if I bought goggle.com and attempted to get you to enter your gmail password or sell the name to Google.  This is illegal in the US under bad faith concepts and in the UK under ‘passing off’ laws.  Where companies like hugedomains get around this is to call the practice ‘domain name speculation‘.  This is where a company acquires many (read, thousands and thousands) of non-trademarked domain names with the intent of selling them at a higher value to anyone who will buy them.  Basically, cybersquatting is legal if you do it en masse and don’t infringe on any existing trademark.

The greedy bastard behind this exploitative operation is Andrew Reberry, the owner of TurnCommerce which, in turn (geddit?!), owns HugeDomains as well as NameBright and DropCatch.  Mr. Reberry purchases over 35,000 domains a month ranking him second in the world for this practice, just behind a shady private registrant (possibly a collective) and just ahead of an illegal Chinese Whois.  Despite this profiteering, Andrew ‘not Dennis John’ Reberry has the tenacity to claim that his company are building ‘a better internet’.  How is pricing normal people and businesses out of the online market for personal gain making for ‘a better internet’?

So, while corporate cybersquatting should be illegal as it is unethical and is causing inflation of domain name prices, it remains legal (because, money).  It is also worth noting that Andrew Reberry and co. are not the only ones in on this and as we begin running out of .com domain names, we may be looking at paying a fortune to get them back.

Thankfully, many new domain name extensions have been released, such as .biz and .beer (dennisjohn.beer?)  This will perhaps cause .com to plummet in value and level the playing field.  Probably not in the near future as .com is pretty ingrained into public conscious but maybe one day.

And finally, dennis-john.com (note the hyphen) is being legitimately used by another Dennis John.  He draws quality pictures, you should check his stuff out.

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