Friday, 20 June 2014

It takes all sorts .... (what sort are you?)

It was a normal Wednesday morning. I had just returned from dropping Ladybird off to kindy and Turtle was enjoying being able to watch some boy cartoons while I caught up with the morning emails and messages.

I don't spend much time on my Facebook newsfeed, it rarely has anything of interest for me and I spend a lot of my time with the members of The Network. Today, a post caught my eye and it reminded me I had forgotten to do something.

When I started The Handmade Business Mentor I was tight on money. I only registered my .com and left the because I understood that as it was my registered business name it was unable to be registered by anyone else.

So, upon seeing the Facebook post from The Organised Housewife, I toddled off to register my domain and made a sickening discovery. It wasn't available! At first I was shocked, in a state of disbelief. I thought the rules around domains were fairly strict, how could someone who has no right to the domain even register it?

Now, here is where it gets really sickening. Not only had someone registered my business name in, they also registered my registered business name for The Handmade Business Network and other variations. In all around five domain names directly related to my registered business names have been registered by another person. A single person.

At first there was anger. Oh yes, I saw red!

Then there was misery. I shed many a tear I will admit. 

I sought advice, I asked for guidance, I researched my options.

Soon, there was a calm, a serenity about the situation. Sure, domains that are specific to my business are owned by someone else and I do not know what their real motive is. 

But it doesn't matter. I don't need the domains, sure it'd be nice but I know I have an awesome web developer and I will not need those domain names.

Now, I am happy. I am glad that this person did this to me. Why? Because for so long I thought I was paranoid about this person. I thought I was imagining things and seeing a situation that didn't exist. Yesterday, all my fears about this person were confirmed and confirmed in black and white for all the world to see. I don't need to do or say anything. I don't have to name her, I don't even have to contact her. Her deliberate act is there, for anyone to discover.

What this situation has done is get me to think, and really try to understand why people think that this sort of behaviour is acceptable. I mean, who does this? If you follow the mummy blog saga you'd be forgiven for thinking that this is a standard practice but really? By who? The only reason I can see for anyone registering domain names in this manner is because they want to cripple your business. They want to limit your opportunities, maybe even illegally hold your domains for ransom for a hefty fee. Perhaps they want a piece of your success or what they perceive is your success.

Whatever their reasons you can rest assured that they are not moral, they are not positive and they are not good. All the protesting and claims of mistakes can't erase the fact that they have registered domains that are linked to other peoples business names and sometimes not even loosely, sometimes they are identical.

So what can you do if you find yourself in the same situation I found myself in a couple of days ago?

You can't change what they have done. 

You can't go back in time and register the domains yourself.

First, you need to find our who has registered the domains and if in fact they are just one person. The domains could have been registered well before you dreamed of your business and if that is the case then it's been an oversight on your part when you started. If, like me, the domains were registered after you had started and after your business names were registered then you will have some claim to them that you should explore legally. If you know the person, approach them and find out what is going on. (To find out who owns a domain name and when it was registered you can search here

If you have the funds, you can get the names de-registered especially if they include a identical to your registered business name in Australia. They legally aren't allowed to register this one and it is a loophole that devious people are exploiting as the only check is for an ABN nothing more.

You can, secure other domain variations to protect your brand.

You can even change your name if you wish to.

You can still reach the front page of search results through awesome content, a great website that complies with industry standards and working on your SEO.

UPDATE: On June 20, 2014 I received a message from the person who had registered my business name domains. At first I was elated, she was apologetic and told me she had cancelled them. Today I have purchased the of thehandmadebusinessmentor and handmadebusinessmentor ... unfortunately it appears the doing the right thing only goes so far as and the versions of my other registered business name thehandmadebusinessnetwork remain secured in her ownership. I have replied requesting when my other registered business name domains will be released.

UPDATE: Further emails to secure the release of thehandmadebusinessnetwork domains have been ignored. It appears that the feeling of guilt only went so far. 

To learn more ways to protect your brand you can read this article on the topic.

Here is the Facebook post I mention above:

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