By Zak Muscovitch.

Last year at Namescon, my Domain Name Leasing Workshop was (to my surprise) packed, and attendees got to go through an entire domain name lease agreement with me. Attendees also received an annotated domain name lease agreement, which contained explanatory commentary about the provisions of a typical domain name lease agreement.

This year at Namescon® 2016, I will be joined by eminent domain name attorney and friend, Karen Bernstein from Berstein IP in New York City, and we will be going deeper, and discussing domain name leasing issues together with all attendees. It will be an informal session where you can bring your basic and advanced questions and have a discussion with us about common issues that arise in domain name lease transactions. You can even pose specific questions about particular issues that you have encountered or are concerned about and Karen and I will do our best to answer without providing any actual legal advice! 🙂

The session is on Sunday, January 10, 2016, at 12:00 noon, and is called “Table Topic C: Leasing a Domain”.

In preparation for the session, you may want to watch my interview on DomainSherpa, where Michael Cyger and I provided an unprecedented examination of domain name leasing issues, in remarkable detail. Michael sure went into specifics as is his trademark style, and I think viewers got to learn a substantial amount about domain name leasing.

By watching the DomainSherpa presentation before Namescon® 2016, you will familiarize yourself with the issues and procedures of domain name lease transactions, so that when you come to Namescon® 2016, you may be able to ask follow up or more specific questions about domain name leases from two experienced attorneys, Karen and myself. You can also download a copy of the annotated sample ‘Domain Name Lease Agreement with an Option to Purchase’ here, from the DomainSherpa website (which was originally distributed to Namescon® 2015 attendees.

I look forward to meeting you at Namescon® 2016, and will also be available at my Network Lane Table on Sunday, January 10, 2016, for informal chats and to meet old and new friends. See you in Vegas!


By Zak Muscovitch.

The  “Leasing Domain Names” workshop at Namescon is almost full. I am looking forward to spending 45 minutes taking everyone through a domain name lease agreement, line by line, and explaining the issues and considerations, so that you become familiar with the basics of domain name leasing transactions. After the workshop, I will also be giving attendees an Annotated Domain Name Lease Agreement, which I prepared specifically for Namescon, and which can be used as a template and reference guide for domain name lease transactions.

Domain Name Leasing occurs with more and more frequency as it can allow a lessee to get use of a valuable premium domain name without having to lay out the entire purchase price at the outset. That, combined with an option to purchase, has the potential to make a successful transaction for both parties. Nevertheless, there are potential pitfalls, and also benefits to structuring the transaction in certain ways. Come learn about it, as I love discussing domain name leasing transactions.

The Domain Name Leasing workshop will be held on Sunday, January 11, 2015, at 2:15 pm in “The Mojo Room”, at Namescon 2015, in Las Vegas, at the Tropicana Hotel.


By Zak Muscovitch.

I am seeing a lot of good domain name leasing action these days for premium domain names. When negotiating a domain name leasing agreement, generally the right time to consult a domain name lawyer is before you agree on the basic terms, not afterwards. The reason is that it may be your first time leasing a domain name and you might as well get the benefit of an experienced domain name leasing lawyer before you commit to the terms of a deal. Sure, you may feel that the business terms are up to you, and of course they are, but often the business terms are closely linked with the legal terms, and therefore it is often best to look at both together, not one before the other.

There are many aspects to a good domain name lease agreement, but here are 5 tips that are often initially overlooked:

1. Escrow of the Domain Name. If monthly payments are large enough, and if the deal is important enough, the party leasing the domain name may want to have the domain name held by a neutral third party in order to provide greater comfort that the name will still be there after a lot of money and time has been spent on developing a leased domain name.

2. Trademark Rights. If you are leasing a domain name to someone, you wouldn’t want that person to be accumulating or acquiring trademark rights the whole time they are renting the domain name from you if they don’t end up buying the domain name. If that were to happen, then after you re-take control of the domain name (for example, after the lease is over or terminated), in theory, the party who has been using a domain name could potentially argue that they have acquired trademark rights or goodwill on the brand, thereby hindering your own use and ownership of it.

3. Loss of the Domain Name. Consideration should be given to what happens if the domain name is lost as a result of the misuse of the domain name by the party renting the domain name. Similarly, indemnifications may be required in order to protect the domain name owner against claims for damages by third parties, that arise for example, from trademark infringement claims made by third parties against the party renting the domain name.

4. Early Termination. Some consideration should be given to whether or not the party renting the domain name can terminate the agreement before it comes to an end, for example, if the project doesn’t pan out, or whether the renter is on the hook for all payments throughout the lease period, regardless. Another possibility is to build in an early termination fee or penalty.

5. Buy-Out Incentives. It is often in the best interests of both parties to build in an incentive for the renter to buy the domain name early on, from the domain name owner. Accordingly, various structures are possible to provide a financial incentive to the renter to pull the trigger on a buy-out earlier rather than later. This can, for example, take the form of a gradually escalating purchase or buy out price, or can take the form of a discount if the domain name is purchased within a certain time frame