Alan Dunn talks with Dr. John Berryhill, Ph.d., one of the world’s leading domain name attorneys, about domain name ownership due diligence and more. A must listen for anyone interested in buying a domain name on the aftermarket.
Podcast, Domain Stories is hosted by Alan Dunn, a domain name industry expert who works alongside some of the world’s biggest brands. He will provide insight into how sales happen, give an inside look at complex transactions, and hear from others in the domain industry. In this episode, Alan is talking with Dr. John Berryhill about the due diligence of domain name ownership. John is one of the world’s leading domain name lawyers and has been in the industry for over 20 years. He has participated in UDRP, state, federal, and international domain name disputes.
Dr. John Berryhill starts by sharing how he began working in domain name law. Surprisingly, it began when he studied electrical engineering in college and received a doctorate degree in the field. He then discovered there was demand in intellectual property law, especially for those who had a technological background. Coincidentally, he found out you can practice patent law without taking the bar exam. This began his career in law, and the rise of the internet led him to domain name law with his first case in 1998. John shares the story of his first client in the late 90’s, when the guidelines weren’t as clear.
The conversation of domain name due diligence starts when John discusses domain name ownership. He says the rights to a domain name are more comparable to rights of receiving a service. The buyer is actually not purchasing the domain name, but the registration service itself. John poses the question, can you buy and sell a domain name as property? He proceeds to explain how the registrar does give the buyer the right to call the domain yours, whether it is property or not. He then compares and contrasts domain name registration ownership, to a car title or a house deed. John and Alan also discuss the difficulties for businesses buying a domain name under a particular employee’s name.
John talks about the ownership of a domain name under the new privacy laws and the balance of privacy. He explains the different levels of privacy and contact within different registrars. Registrars are required to give a certain level of contact to other registrars. There are a variety of different situations within domain name registration ownership that make the different levels of privacy more complex. The privacy regulations do limit register contact, but also unsolicited offers. John states, finding the right registrant for the buyer can be difficult. John and Alan also discuss other challenges in domain name law such as domain transfer locks.
John explores the challenges of ensuring domain ownership. John says while parties are acquiring titles online, there is only a certain level of due diligence you can do to prevent risk. John talks about the challenges of using a third-party service, such as Escrow.com. When using such a third-party service, you want to also have a domain name purchase agreement, as many third-party services are just payment processors. Alan and John also discuss the risk and legality of using a third-party escrow service and how he believes there is now an opportunity for domain registrars to provide some kind of ownership verification service.
While practicing domain law, John has worked with clients where both parties involved did not practice proper domain due diligence. John finishes with a story of a past transaction of a buyer, a seller, and an escrow lawyer named Tom Collins.
Outbound Links & Resources Mentioned:
- Alan introduces attorney, Dr. John Berryhill.
- John shares how he became involved in domain law.
- John shares the story of his first client in the late 90’s.
- John defines the complexity of domain name ownership.
- The ownership of a domain name under the new privacy laws is discussed.
- John and Alan have a conversation about finding the right register for the buyer.
- John explores the challenges of ensuring domain ownership.
- Third party services are evaluated.
- John talks about the importance of domain registrars.
- John shares a story of a buyer, a seller, and an escrow lawyer.