Employee owns company domain

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by ProjectManager101, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. ProjectManager101 Suspended

    ProjectManager101

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2015
    #1
    Ok...

    One of my partners was looking to purchase extra domains for the company based on our own name, like "AppleNetworks.com" for example. And he realize one of our video editors that moved to another state and still working for us is the owner of that domain since November. He has been working with us since April and he has a huge confidentiality agreement signed. Of course he can not use privilege information of the company for his own benefit. Not to mention he moved to California and the contract is all about California's laws.

    We haven't spoke to him about it but I was wondering about your opinions about the issue. Thank you.
     
  2. BillyBobBongo, Feb 2, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2016

    BillyBobBongo macrumors 68020

    BillyBobBongo

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    Location:
    On The Interweb Thingy!
    #2
    I'd have a word with him first and see why he registered it, maybe he registered it for the company in goodwill.

    However, if he ever asks more than reg fee to give it back to the company...slap him so hard with a UDRP that his head spins.

    You could of course just scare him first by showing him the costs that he'll incur trying to defend himself, before getting legal help in: http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/fees/
     
  3. Cineplex macrumors 6502a

    Cineplex

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2016
    #3
    If the domain name is not the same as your trademarked business name (assuming it is trademarked..if not your situation is a lot worse), you may not have any right to it. That would be the case especially if he has not used it in a way that violates the trademark law, his NDA, or other employment agreements. Confidentiality agreements typically don't have any wording to prevent someone from buying a domain name. Accusing him of something could result in unwanted consequences and an unnecessary struggle. If the domain is that important, throw him a couple bucks for it and everyone wins. You can always get it back in other ways from him (not giving a bonus, less projects, something like that) If the domain is just to have something like "AppleNetworks.biz" or "AppleNetworksEnterprises.com"...its probably not even worth the effort to bother with any of this.
     
  4. iPaintCode macrumors regular

    iPaintCode

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2012
    Location:
    Metro Detroit
    #4
    This is best left to a lawyer who knows this domain, no pun intended. Adding to what Cineplex said, the ™ issue could get a lot more complicated. I can't advice you but it's a slippery situation as both sides could have a case if certain actions were taken. Best you have your attorney look over the contract or contact one who specializes in this area. You could always ask the guy why, but I'd suggest talking to an attorney first.
     
  5. WinstonRumfoord macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2014
    #5
    Best I know, you have no legal right to that name and I'd imagine the said employee bought it up with intentions of selling it for a profit when the time came, as is his right.

    Offer him a few times the going rate and keep the bridge.
     
  6. BillyBobBongo macrumors 68020

    BillyBobBongo

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    Location:
    On The Interweb Thingy!
    #6
    If you hold a trademark to a company name and an employee registers a domain name in 'Bad Faith', that would be with the intention to sell it to back to the company at an inflated price, then the employee is in for a legal headache should they wish to pursue this action.
     
  7. PinkyMacGodess macrumors 68040

    PinkyMacGodess

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest America.
    #7
    From my understanding of 'teh law', you are better by far to calmly ask them about it. Just in passing, no drama. If the person gets testy, or embarrassed, proceed accordingly. Offer them a one time bundle of cash. If they deny it, or do anything provocative, then you know what you have to do.

    Granted, it's odd as heck that an employee would do this. It would raise the hairs on the back of my neck too. Especially since they didn't come right away and say 'Hey, I got these domain names, figured y'all might want them.' But the motive won't come unless you ask. Confidentiality agreements can include company marks, and brands, but in my experience often don't. Those are usually in subcontractor agreements I'd think. Especially ones that have 'company' uniforms, and company equipment.

    Bring lawyers in too early, and you risk bad blood, and a potential fight. But it is odd. You are right to be cautious, and concerned... Are they planning on bolting, and creating a satire site? One of many questions...
     
  8. winston1236 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2010
    #8
    I would suspect not given that it's incredibly easy as well as legal to buy a private domain registration service and prevent anyone from discovering the identity of the owner.
     
  9. PinkyMacGodess macrumors 68040

    PinkyMacGodess

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest America.
    #9
    Some don't know you can do that. If this person doesn't, hmm...

    Chances are though, it's benign...

    Or they want to buy the company.

    One client had an employee pop in to the owners office and ask 'How much to buy you out?' And he did...
     

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