Domain name already taken? Here is what you can do
- Maurine La Verge
- How to
- 1 March 2023
- Edited 23 October 2023
- 2 min
- Rules and laws
Help! The perfect name for your new website has already been taken. No need to panic. You may still be able to use the domain name. Here are your options.
The Netherlands had almost 6.3 million domain names ending in .nl in 2022. This is according to figures from the Foundation for Internet Domain Name Registration in the (Stichting Internet Domeinnaamregistratie Nederland, SIDN). So many domain names are already in use. How can you still register your dream domain name? There are 3 ways.
1. Choose another domain extension
Each domain name is unique. It is the name of your website and an important part of your email address. At KVK, for example, it is www.kvk.nl and email@example.com. Want to know if your desired .nl domain name is still available? You can check on (in Dutch). If the domain is already taken, you can register the web address with another domain extension. For example, .com, .info, .nu or .net. The domain extension is the part of a domain name that follows the full stop.
You can read more about international extensions such as .com and .eu in the article Checking and buying domain names in Europe.
2. Buying an existing domain name
Is your desired domain name not free and you do not want a .net or .com extension? Then you can sometimes buy an existing domain name, through a trading platform such as Sedo or Domeinwinkel, for instance.
“Business owners mistakenly think they have to spend a lot of money to become the owner of an existing domain name”, says Michiel Henneke of SIDN. “In the media, you see high amounts. But not every domain costs a million. The average price for a .nl domain name at auction is €700.”
3. Claiming a domain name
There is a third way: claim a domain if you see someone else using your brand or trade name in a domain name. For this, you can take a case to the subdistrict court. Just keep in mind that a lawsuit can cost a lot of money, advises legal adviser Esther Flierman of legal advice bureau ICTrecht. “For a case , you will pay €1,500. And you have no guarantee that you will eventually get the domain name. If you seek help from a you will often have to pay €2,000 or more on top of that.”
Usually, the owner of the domain name has all the rights. But they could lose it if the use of the domain name conflicts with your company's trade or brand name. For example, if it is confusing to customers which company the website belongs to. Check what the owner is using the domain name for, and how long they have been doing so. You can win the lawsuit if you meet any of the following conditions:
- The .nl domain name you are laying claim to is almost the same as your trade name or brand. You stand a better chance if your name or brand has been around for longer than the domain name.
- The domain name owner has no stake in the domain name, or less of a stake than you do. For example, someone who uses 'Nike' in a domain name even though they do not sell products under that brand name, has no stake in, and therefore no right to, the domain name.
- The domain name owner uses a name very similar to your trade name, and in doing so exploits the success of your well-known brand.