One thing that we will see more often are family law disputes involving domain names. When marriages break up, family property is often divided by the court. In a recent divorce case, a Vancouver, British Columbia Supreme Court Judge heard evidence from a business valuator, whose testimony was considered expert evidence on behalf of the husband. The expert business valuator was asked by the husband to put a value on the domain name, REPO.COM, which was owned by the husband, together with about 1300 other domains. Domain name investors will be horrified to learn that according to the written decision regarding this dispute, the business valuation expert, Mr. Tindale,

"valued the “” domain name at $2,000. He testified that the remaining URLs have no fair market value at the present, because search engines like Google have become increasingly powerful, with the result that a website name is no longer required to locate a website quickly and efficiently, and there is little utility or value to a particular URL. Many URLs are available at either no cost or a fee of about $10, and are subject to annual licensing fees of about $10. The URLs owned by BC do not generate any revenue at present. In Mr. Tidball’s opinion, some URLs have potential value, but only if packaged together with a business plan."

In this case there was no reference to any expert hired by the wife to dispute this valuation.

Furthermore, entered into evidence, apparently in corroboration of the $2,000 valuation of REPO.COM, was the fact that the husband received an unsolicited offer for $1,000.00 for the domain name. Any domainers out there ever get those by any chance?

The decision did not specifically reference what domain names comprised the 1300 domain names owned by the husband, but it would certainly be interesting to see what they were valuable, or worth peanuts as apparently believed by the court. Any domain name investigators out there want to spend a couple hours on, etc.?

In any divorce or business valuation dispute concerning domain names, it is crucial for counsel to assist their clients in obtaining qualified domain name valuation experts to assist. Likewise, trustees in bankruptcy should retain an expert domain name lawyer or domain name expert to provide insight into valuing a domain name or domain name portfolio.

Privacy Protection for domainers who have legitimate portfolios is a little like a burka on a bikini model.

Although keeping one’s domain name registration details private is an attractive concept and may even help wary registrants avoid imparting too much information to prospective domain name dispute claimants, in my humble opinion, the practice is a business killer in the .CA realm. As a domain name lawyer I can rarely find out who owns what to try and put together deals. I can’t trace the history of domains to perform due diligence. I can’t identify connections between web sites and domain owners. It stymies me. And if it stymies me from doing .CA deals, that means that it is hurting business for .CA owners , who dont need any more negative factors affecting the Canadian market than they already have. Sure I can sometimes use other methods, but the utility of whois archives is lessening as time goes on, because it carries no new information for most .ca’s since all recent records are privacy protected.

By way of background, CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority made privacy protection a “default setting”, and considered this move a leadership position in the Internet world. And I did too. I am a big fan of privacy and thought that CIRA’s privacy protection policy was extraordinarily progressive and consumer-friendly. But I was wrong. It kills business. Imagine a stock exchange where there are no listings….That is what has happened here. And the benefit of privacy is nil for a domainer who is trying to hide, because a CDRP reveals your identity anyhow….and hiding can actually encourage a CDRP…So it gets you nowhere other than to avoid someone like me finding out what domain name you own so I can easily contact you and know who you are, to make a deal.

In the Canadian .CA realm, domains are extraordinarily underdeveloped so we need all the contact and attention that we can get – not privacy! We don’t want a marketplace with hidden vendors. We want a marketplace with vendors showing their wares off in public and making themselves available to bargain with each other.