How to prevent your intellectual property from being hijacked

It’s important that everything that reflects ownership of your IP assets be in your name and no one else’s

A domain and a website are critical to most businesses today, but more owners lose these important assets to people they thought they could trust rather than to an outside hacker.

A common story here is a dispute with a web designer who the company owner has hired and who offers to take care of the domain registration as part of the service of building and setting up the website and email.

Sometimes the domain name is hijacked by an employee who has been fired. Essentially, the relationship goes sour and the registration of the domain name and access to the website and email go along with the rogue web designer or employee.

Here are some ways to protect your key intellectual property.

•Register your domain and buy your hosting plan yourself and do it in your name.

Most web designers are honest and reputable and aren’t out to steal your intellectual property. But when you set up a bank account for your business, you wouldn’t put it in your accountant’s name. The same holds true for your domain name. Ensure the registrant name and administrative contact name and all contact information, including the email address, are yours. Decline your web designer’s offer to “take care of all that [registering/transferring your domain and arranging for hosting] for you.”

It’s important that everything that reflects ownership of your IP assets be in your name and no one else’s. The only way to ensure this is to do these steps yourself.

•Never give your account user name or password to anyone.

Provide only the hosting control panel and FTP (File Transfer Protocol – what you use to transfer files for your hosting) credentials to your web designer – this is all that they will need. They don’t need access to your domain or the account used to pay for or to renew these services.

•Use the technical contact

Optionally, you can designate your web designer as the technical contact within your domain registration. This will give him or her authority to request that technical changes be made to the domain (such as changing where the domain points to). Such a request can be made through the support department of your registrar. Make sure it is the technical contact only and not the account or administrative contacts you put in the web designer’s name.

If you’re not sure who is listed as the owner of your domain, find out for free by searching on http://www.webnames.ca/whois.aspx.

If your domain is not listed in your name, change it now. Don’t forget to update your password to your account after the changes are made to ensure no one else has access. •

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