Title insurance would provide peace of mind when making a large domain purchase.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday I read an article in Forbes (November 13, page 148) about real estate title insurance. The article was about how real estate title insurance is a joke and overpriced. But as I read in the article how titles are investigated, in dawned on me that a title check service for domain names would be helpful.
Title checks and title insurance would prevent you from losing money when you bought a stolen domain. Last year I almost got bilked for $5,000 buying domains…before I discovered they were stolen. I basically ran my own title check to find out the domains were stolen.
Here’s how domain name title insurance might work:
You pay a company to research the history and ownership of a domain to make sure it doesn’t have any past legal issues such as UDRP proceedings, suspicious transfers, etc. This would require using a historical whois database and perhaps making a few phone calls to previous owners of the domain to make sure it traded hands properly. The service might also run a trademark search to make sure there aren’t trademark issues. For an additional fee, the domain name title company would insure you against any losses should it turn out that the domain didn’t have a clear title or should you lose the domain in a trademark dispute.
A company like Name Intelligence might be a good provider of this service given its historical database of domain name information.
Purchasers of expensive domains frequently hire law firms to run trademark checks and do their own investigations. But this is a service that could be productized to the benefit of the domain name community. Stolen domains and trademark domains are a cloud over the industry and title insurance could help evaporate it.
Apparently I’m not the only person to envision a need for domain name title insurance. I checked a few domain names, including the ones below, and they were already registered.