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Take control of your website, before you lose it

November 5, 2014

Websites are absolutely essential to modern marketing.  Some industries are particularly reliant on them, for example travel and hotel businesses, who face fierce competition when their customers can quickly type a destination into Google to find scores of operators vying for attention.  Still, for anyone starting, or buying a business, the website is almost certainly one of the most important assets to consider.

Who, then, could take control of your website? There isn’t always a straightforward answer.  If you have any doubts, you could be in for a shock.

Doone Valley Holidays

That’s what happened to Mr Harman and his wife, who bought a holiday business, Doone Valley Holidays in 2003, based at Cloud Farm, and they invested heavily in developing their online presence.  No attention was given to the fact that the site remained registered to its previous owner, Mr Burge.

Cut to the Harmans 7 years later, when their business moved to a new address.  Despite the considerable financial investment they had made, and the length of time they spent at Cloud Farm, they had not thought to make sure the site was registered in their own names.  So, after they moved on, the former owner, Mr Burge, was able to take control of the site.  Which he did.  The former site content was no longer accessible, and all that remained was a notice:

“Doone Valley Holidays. Announcement. Doone Valley Holidays at Cloud Farm Look forward to seeing you in 2010”.

Imagine Mr Harman’s surprise when he began hearing from potential customers, that they couldn’t access the website.  Perhaps worse, although Mr Harman had taken time to let people know they would be moving, the heading mentioned above made it seem, at first glance, that the business would still be running from Cloud Farm.

Inevitably, these circumstances lead to:

  • lost business
  • considerable time and effort
  • legal costs
  • wasted marketing fees

It could have all been avoided if, at the time of buying the business, ownership of the website was given the attention it called for.

The dispute came to a head, and legal action resulted in an award of damages and interest in July this year, to the tune of £40,000.  Unfortunately, financial compensation is rarely enough to put a business in the position they might have been in, had the disruption, costs, and pressures which accompany litigation not arisen in the first place.  Prevention is better than cure.

Take control of your website

If you know the right questions to ask, a few simple steps can leave you free to build your business without worrying about waking up to find that someone else has taken control of your website.

You can find out more about doing business onlinebuying a businesswebsite ownership and domain names on our website.  The full report for this case is available online here: Harman v Burge.