Stolen Domain Name

I was reading an article by Purva Patel (I like to give credit since I once wrote for this paper so I know how important it is to give credit to the hardworking writers.) in the Business section of my Houston Chronicle about a criminal case that will create precedent when tried, and it's all about the value of a domain name.

Gist Of It

Marc Ostrofsky of Houston is known for having sold his domain for seven $7.5 million. He's back in the news because he was hacked and, I guess I'm supposed to say allegedly, had a domain name stolen. He and his business partners own a lot of domain names. The stolen name was purchased in 2005 for $160 grand.

A year later someone stole the name and eBayed it, selling it to pro basketballer Mark Madsen of the LA Clippers. Madsen, poor guy, didn't know it was stolen.

A week and a half ago, New Jersey police arrested the suspected domain name thief, 25 year old Daniel Goncalves who left a cyber trail when he transferred ownership of the domain name to himself after hacking into the online account of one of the owners of it, then he resold the name to Madsen for $111 grand.

So What's The Problem

You may well be asking yourself why can't Ostrofsky just take back the name. Why can't the authorities prosecute the suspect? The main problem is that there hasn't been much prosecution for the theft of Internet real estate or assets.

In Dallas, intellectual property lawyer Jeff Becker used the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act to recover names that infringed on registered trademarks. Those were civil lawsuits. Unfortunately, that act and those kinds of lawsuits don't apply to Ostrofsky's recovery effort because he's trying to bring criminal action against the suspected thief.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

Until things get sorted out, and the case is either tried or dismissed, ownership of P2P is frozen. In the meantime, Ostrofsky and his partners are filing amended lawsuits to include Go Daddy, the domain company where the names were parked. I know a lot of writers do this: buy several variations of names and park them with a web host that charges a nominal fee to "store" them.

A Duh Moment

As I read the original article, I realized that names can be big business. I never really thought about it before even though I'm familiar with the lawsuits famous authors had to bring against people who bought bunches of famous name domains and then tried to sell them back to the authors for huge bucks.

I'm always looking for a way to increase income. (Writers are the original starving artists I think. Well, we don't actually starve, it just seems like it.) I like brainstorming. Maybe I should create a list of domain names and then purchase and park them until someone wants to offer me a hundred grand for them. What do you think?

Takeaway Truth

The Internet has changed the world, and now the world must change to accommodate this new world. (I had to fight to keep from saying "this new world order.")


  1. Can we add the CEO of DirectNIC (aka Kenyatech or NOLDC or Parked or whatever other shell companies he's got going) to this list of domain thieves? There are TONS of WIPO cases against this guy and his cronies and they've lost all but a couple. People need to know what a danger that guy is.

  2. "Maybe I should create a list of domain names and then purchase and park them until someone wants to offer me a hundred grand for them. What do you think?"

    Nothing wrong with that. That is precisely what people do with real-estate and they've been doing it for eons. Speculators buy up acreage in areas they think will increase in value and become prime locations for development - leading to others to ask if their properties are for sale. Nothing at all different about it except one is tangible property and the other isnt.

  3. Oh, his name is Sigmund Solares - the CEO of DirectNIC.... google him for some very interesting domain theft stories. Wouldnt be surprised if you said he was behind this one.

  4. Thanks for the comments. I'll have to do some research.