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A Halloween Special: Domain Name Horror Stories
By SmartBranding Team access_time 5 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!

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! — An expired domain name is every business owner’s nightmare for a good reason.

One of the worst things that you can do as a business owner is to let your domain expire. Obviously, this can cause severe ramifications for your business. Firstly, your online presence will suffer as users struggle to access your site, a loss in traffic, loss in revenue, trust, and the brand identity that comes with it.

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. After a quick Whois lookup, we can see that the Marketo team has already renewed the domain until 2021.

Just to remind you, in September 2015, Google missed a deadline to renew the domain, one of the most valuable domains on the Internet. — The Google of its time shelled out $3 million for the domain

Pretty much king of the search engines through the middle to late 90s (it was established in 1995 and Google didn’t exist), AltaVista was launched by Digital Equipment Corporation, which was known simply as “Digital”. Since the domain name was already in use by another business, the company used a subdomain Compaq bought out Digital Equipment Corporation in 1998 and in the process acquired the exact brand match domain name By failing to secure the shorter domain sooner, the purchase ended up costing Compaq $3.3m. The purchase still ranks in the top 30 most expensive domain names of all time. On July 8, 2013, the service was shut down by Yahoo! and since then the domain has redirected to Yahoo!’s own search site. — Someone forgot to review the final selection before hitting the “Register” button

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 changed the domain to Regency pretty soon after. — An Ongoing Saga about the fight for

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.

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.

Dunkin’ Donuts — Failing to secure the domain name after the big news about the rebrand

In September 2018, Dunkin’ Donuts announced plans to drop the “Donuts” in roughly 50 stores across the United States. The name change officially took place in January — however, the 69-year-old chain failed to secure the Exact Brand Match (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.”

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.

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!