Cyber squatters suck! Yes, they really suck!
Harsh word, I know, so let me give you some details.
Maybe you have visited my site before (well, before October 21st). And maybe you remember that the domain name was thomasfreudenberg.com. Now have a look at the address bar of your browser. What domain name does it say? Yes, thomas-freudenberg.com. Do you see the difference? I'll give you a hint: there's an hyphen added.
Now I'll tell the whole story: on October 21st my domain expired. Till then I had it registered by BlitzDomains.de. Unfortunately, they've forgotten to renew the registration. Therefore I decided to switch my registrar. I'm really pleased with WebHost4Life who hosts my site for more than two years, so I wanted them to be the registrar of my domain as well.
However, they declined. Because my domain was already in the redemption period, it couldn't be transferred to another registrar. "Ok," I thought, "I'll stay with my formar registrar". I tried to call him, but no-one answered the phone. I mailed him, again no answers. After two weeks I gave up. Resignedly, I thought I have to wait until the redemption period is over, and then let WH4L register my domain. However, I misconceived that the redemption period lasts 60 days. That would be until December 19th. What a bad situation. Not only that my blog was down. Additionally, I couldn't get any mail to my @thomasfreudenberg.com accounts.
But it even got worse.
Last Wednesday–47 days after my domain expired–I checked my domain again. What did I have to see? The request was redirected to another site, gogogo.com. It's an ad site. A cyber squatter already registered my domain!
A callback to WH4L revealed that I was wrong. The redemption period lasts only 30 days. And the cyber squatter was faster than I was.
Though it boded ill, I sent the squatter a mail and asked for getting the domain back. Their short answer? "The mimium offer that we will consider is $1000.00".
$1000?!? They must be kidding. This site is only a hobby of mine, and damn I won't pay $1000 to get the domain name back.
For those case there is the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). In paragraph 4(b)(i) it says:
[... the following circumstances ... shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith] circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name.
Since the squatter demanded $1000 for the domain name IMHO the evidence is produced, so I could file case at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). But how much would that cost? Well, at least $1500.
Now I resigned. Forget about thomasfreudenberg.com. Yesterday I've registered thomas-freudenberg.com. It took only 10 minutes to get my site back to life with the new domain name.
But what's really annoying is that there exist dozens of links in the web/blogosphere pointing to my old domain, and at myriads of sites I used thomasfreudenberg.com email accounts. At the most important ones I've already changed the email addresses, but anyway. And the existing links I cannot change.
How did I start this post? Cyber squatters suck!