folder Filed in Domain tips
A Halloween Special: Domain Name Horror Stories
By SmartBranding Team access_time 8 min read

Halloween is all about a little bit of scare, right? As you prepare for a spooky night of trick-or-treating, we’ve done some research to find you some scary domain name stories that will give you both: a bit of a scare — and a good lesson. Pass the marshmallows!

What happens if a domain name expires?

An expired domain name is every business owner’s nightmare…for a good reason. Once a domain expires, it becomes inactive immediately along with all the services attached to it – company website, emails, access to any third-party sites and apps that were linked to your company emails. Not to mention that someone else can get their hands on that domain and the risks associated.

In July 2017, Marketo, a marketing automation provider (oh, how ironic), forgot to renew its domain name,, causing it to lose every hyperlink, image, and form in all of its client emails. The company’s customers experienced an unexpected outage and were unable to access any of the company’s online login services for as long as two days. Travis Prebble, a self-described geek, came to the rescue after he noticed the error. He saw that their domain was available to purchase in an online domain marketplace and decided to acquire the domain for a total of $74. While users thought Prebble might be trying to sell the $2B company back its website — he assured them otherwise. Not all heroes wear capes, and Marketo was fortunate to have a customer like Travis.

That train is gone

Just to remind you, in September 2015, Google missed a deadline to renew the domain, one of the most valuable domains on the Internet.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

You’ve got it! You have just come up with a great name, and now you’re rushing to register that domain name. Make sure you write and read it a few times before you hit the Register button.

Freudian slip?

For an IT company, you would think IT Scrap would have been a bit more careful when choosing their domain name. When it was founded in 1998, Regency was primarily focused on IT refurbishment and remarketing. The company used the domain name Does this name look weird to you written as a single word? Their users thought the same, so the company had to go through a rebrand to Regency pretty soon after.

Brand fragmentation

You would’ve thought that is a newbie mistake – launching a business and not securing the exact brand match domain for it. Check what happens when you type in in the address bar of your web browser. You would probably expect to see a polished presentation of Nissan’s latest lineup, right? However, that is not the case.

Uzi Nissan, Nissan Computer Corporation, domain
Not the Nissan you expect

In the early 1990s, Uzi Nissan started the Nissan Computer Corporation. In 1994, he acquired the domain name to sell his computer-related products and services. However, the other Nissan, a Japanese multinational automobile manufacturer, wanted the domain. As soon as it was clear Uzi wouldn’t sell the domain, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. filed a lawsuit against Nissan Computer on December 10, 1999. Several issues and claims were brought, and the case went on for 20 years. While Nissan Motor Company owns the exact brand match .com for most of its individual product lines (,, and, Nissan Motors uses the domain name for its US website and variations of the brand name + country and extensions for other markets.

The story did not end here. A very unexpected turn came in the summer of 2023 when the Estate of Uzi Nissan claimed and had been stolen. The domains were properly maintained until Uzi passed away in 2020, and then ownership was transferred on to his estate, which continued upkeep. At some unknown point following Uzi’s passing, and were no longer controlled by his domain management account. Nissan family believes someone accessed Uzi’s account and transferred control of the domains, stating they have been made aware of communications from someone pretending to be Mr. Nissan’s family. It was stated by the estate that “did not deny, dispute, or question” that the domains were transferred but declined to assist in their return or identify the thief.

The and pages have been taken down. The surreal saga for two of the most coveted domain names continues.

UPDATE April 2024: The judge overseeing the case has granted the estate’s motion for a default judgment (PDF). She ordered Verisign to transfer the domains from GKG to GoDaddy, and for GoDaddy to subsequently transfer the domains to the estate.

A rebrand with a missing piece

In September 2018, Dunkin’ Donuts announced plans to drop the “Donuts” in roughly 50 stores across the United States. It has been a while that the brand is offering more than just donuts, and with trends of people striving to eat and live healthier, it was becoming not only limiting to their offerings, but also damaging to their image as a brand.

The name change officially took place in January — however, the 69-year-old chain failed to secure the EBM domain name The owners of the domain are Tim Dunkin & Wandzia Rose from a training & coaching firm called When you type the domain in your browser, you’ll be automatically redirected to their website. The next thing you will see is the note: “ This is NOT the path to the company Dunkin Donuts. To contact them, you will need to find their site.”

Keep looking

Ouch! Not only it’s embarrassing for a big brand like Dunkin Donuts, but you also can’t imagine the amount of lost traffic to their site because they don’t own the exact brand match domain.

Wait, I thought you are a tech business??

Let’s say you have decided that domains are not important, you just need one, whatever it is, to host your website, and it doesn’t matter beyond that. Another business values the name that’s not important to you more and so invests in securing it. All good up to this point.

Deeper is a rapidly growing tech company that develops revolutionary smart devices for outdoor activities. They also must be very, very precise when sending people to their website, dictating their email to clients and business partners, or even opening their own site while not alone. Why? Because there is a porn website on Where can you find Deeper, the tech startup? We’ll let you do the guess work.

Don’t disappoint your customers

Moral of the story – if you don’t feel it’s important or just can’t afford to secure the most intuitive version of your brand name, at least double and triple check what sort of businesses operate on those names.

Can I keep my domain name after Brexit?

In October 2020 there were over 317 000 .eu domain names registered in the UK for individual and business purposes.  After Brexit, those domain owners had the clock ticking on switching their websites to an alternative domain name or proving they have an address in a European country in order to keep their .EU domain name.

Imagine building a business, brand and reputation, accumulating traffic and emails on your .EU domain for years. Doesn’t seem like a fun (nor cheap!) process to go through.

scary domain name stories , horror
Just about covers it.

Country domain names come with some risks, and you need to really thoroughly check for your specific one before making it the foundation of your business online. 

The rules of domain name registration vary significantly from one country code operator to another. When registering any domain name, as with any service you sign up to that is critical to the operations of your business and how you market yourself, make sure you read the small print.

Phil Kingsland, director of Communications at UK registrar Nominet

Mandy left…and took our brand with her

Your IT guy, colleague, assistant, friend, friend of a friend, cousin…may be great to help you figure out how to register and set up a domain name. But it is of paramount importance to make sure your company domain names are registered to your name, you have full access to them, can prove they are yours at any point and can renew them on time. Do we really need to say why?

scary domain name stories , horror
It’s just a domain name, is it?

Domain names are the foundation of your brand online, so the same way you wouldn’t register your company flagship location to your bestie, you should be aware of who has “the keys” and paperwork for your domains. 

Are you scared? Don’t be, we hope you found our Halloween Special fun and educational at the same time. If you’re still searching for your perfect domain or your current one is a nightmare for your business, book a free consultation at MarkUpgrade. We are always happy to hear from you. Happy Halloween, everyone!

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