What can I do if the domain I would like to have has already been registered for someone else?

DENIC always registers domains on a “first-come, first-served” basis. If someone else registered before you, the only thing you can do initially is to settle for a different name for your domain.

If you have a right to the domain, please also read our information about the DISPUTE procedure.


How can I get hold of information about the holder of a domain?

The data about a domain, which includes its holder, are recorded by DENIC when the domain is registered.

If a party has a legitimate interest, DENIC can communicate the data of the holder of a domain. For more details please refer to our specific information and the forms you need.

Why is there no Dispute Resolution Procedure (like ICANN's UDRP) at DENIC?

The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) run by ICANN is only one of the available channels for settling disputes about domains. It thus does not follow that all domain registries have to opt for it automatically. In point of fact, very few of the county code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) actually use ICANN's UDRP.

The motivation for setting up the ICANN dispute resolution procedure was that disputes involving generic Top Level Domains, such as .com, .net or .org, may result in an extremely complex mesh of international relations amongst the parties concerned. It is possible for the domain holder, the complainant and the registrar to be domiciled in three different countries, and it is even possible that the registry may be in a fourth country. Then it may happen that the competent court is not in the same country as the complainant, so the latter is forced to find an additional lawyer in that country, it may prove complicated to have official and court documents served, and the court hearing might be in a foreign language… The list of imponderables is virtually endless. Even assuming that all these hurdles can be overcome and the victorious party wins a court judgement, there is still the potential problem of getting that judgement executed on the territory of another country. From this brief description, it is clear that what is needed for tackling disputes concerning generic Top Level Domains is completely different from what is required when country code Top Level Domains, such as .de, are at stake.

In litigation involving .de domains, all the parties are often based in Germany, the case can be heard by a German court and a judgement can be secured quickly and for a moderate outlay.

The UDRP has another disadvantage in that it only comes into play for trademark infringements and malicious intent on the part of the domain holder, and the losing party still has the possibility of going before the ordinary courts afterwards. Moreover, in the case of the UDRP, it is the complainant who has to bear the costs of the procedure, whereas the practice of the German courts is for the losing party to bear the costs of litigation.

From the above it is clear that anyone holding rights to a name or a trademark would have no reason at all to want to opt for the UDRP procedure or a similar one for .de domains, since a German court hearing – combined with a DISPUTE entry at DENIC – represents an evidently superior alternative, given that it is both faster and cheaper.

Quite apart from all these considerations, the parties at dispute over a domain are perfectly free to refer their case to a dispute resolution procedure or even to a court of arbitration, if that is their preference.

What is the period of validity of a DISPUTE entry?

Given that the DISPUTE entry deprives the domain holder of the right to dispose of the domain, it would not be good and also most probably not even admissible to maintain it indefinitely. It is conceivable that the parties might simply give up fighting over the domain and forget about the DISPUTE entry altogether. For that reason, the DISPUTE entry is limited to one year, after which it expires without prior notice. If the DISPUTE entry has been made in your name, it is your duty to inform DENIC as soon as the dispute with the domain holder has been brought to a conclusion, so that DENIC can remove the DISPUTE entry. Once the DISPUTE entry has been removed, the domain holder becomes free to dispose of the domain again by transferring it to someone else and, if the domain is deleted, the claimant will no longer automatically become the new holder. That is why it is particularly important that if a DISPUTE entry has been made in your name, you carefully note the date on which it will lapse, so that you can apply in good time for an extension if appropriate (you should do that no later than about one month before the DISPUTE entry lapses). It is possible to grant such an extension, provided the dispute with the domain holder is still continuing and the holder of the DISPUTE entry can demonstrate this adequately in writing, submitting suitable documentary evidence. In order to grant an extension, DENIC also needs a new copy of the DISPUTE form. Once again, your must complete the form, sign it and send DENIC the original.

Can I maintain or extend a DISPUTE after I have agreed with the domain holder that the domain will be released or transferred to me at some later date?

No. The DISPUTE entry is intended to be solely a parallel measure to resolving the dispute over a domain. It can thus not be used as a form of guarantee for claims resulting from an agreement between the holder of a DISPUTE entry and the domain holder.

A DISPUTE entry should never be necessary for this purpose anyway. If you fear that the domain holder is not going to respect an agreement entered into with you, you are at liberty not to accept such an agreement to begin with or to take out some other form of protection. One conceivable solution might be for the domain to be transferred to you immediately, but with the agreement that the (existing) holder would be permitted to continue to use it for a transitional period.

How can I arrange for a DISPUTE entry to be removed?

It goes without saying that if a DISPUTE entry has been set up for you, you have the right to ask for it to be removed at any time. You must, however, use the <media 748>special form</media> for this purpose, sign it and send it to DENIC.

Once the DISPUTE entry has been removed, the domain is free again for transfer to others. If the domain happens to be deleted, you will cease to be its holder.

How much does it cost to set up a DISPUTE entry?

At present, DENIC does not charge for setting up DISPUTE entries or for removing them.

Can I demand that a domain be transferred to me if there is no website to go with it?

The fact that a domain is not being used to address a website does not mean that it is not being used. It is possible to use a domain in conjunction with various services (such as e-mail or file transfer (FTP)) without this being visible on the outside. Moreover, there is no obligation to use a domain to address a website. In no circumstances, then, does the lack of a website give DENIC any occasion whatsoever to terminate the domain contract. DENIC does not even have the means for doing that, and you have no claim at all to take over the domain concerned.

Apart from that, you should also consider that it can always happen that the domain holder may have encountered short-lived technical difficulties, so that a website that really exists is inaccessible for a while. It may also happen that, in looking for a website, you made a typing mistake in the web address. Another possibility may be that the website has been set up only under a sub-domain that an outsider is never going to find by guessing (perhaps under christmas.easter.specimen.de instead of www.specimen.de).

What can I do if I feel that my rights have been infringed by a domain that does not end in .de?

DENIC is the registry for the Top Level Domain .de and is thus responsible solely for domains ending in .de. DENIC is unable to give you any information about domains under other Top Level Domains. However, we can tell you that most other registries responsible for TLDs also provide more information on this matter.

If the domain that concerns you comes under one of the a so-called generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), such as .com, .net, .org., .info. .biz or .name, you can call ICANN's websites, where you'll find a directory of responsible registries. If certain preconditions are met, you may be able to settle your problem through a so called UDRP (Uniform Dispute Resolution Procedure).

If the domain that concerns you comes under a so-called country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) such as .at (for Austria) or .uk (for the United Kingdom), IANA's website is where you'll find a list of registries.

What can I do if I need more information about a domain than that supplied when I use the domain query?

It can sometimes happen (for instance, if you are involved in litigation) that you need to find out more about a domain.

For reasons of data protection, DENIC can only disclose such additional information to you, if you can first demonstrate that you have a legitimate interest. You must tell DENIC in writing (which includes fax), what additional information you would like to have and for what purpose.

You must support your request with documentary evidence. The more detailed the presentation of your reasons and the more convincing your evidence, the less likely it will be that DENIC will need to contact you for further clarification before taking its decision.

Why does DENIC insist on particular forms for our communication?

DENIC provides forms for many transactions. That makes the job easier for both you and us. All you have to do is print out the forms and complete them. This way DENIC can be sure it will receive the declarations needed. Clarifications become unnecessary and delays are avoided.

The reason why DENIC asks you to send in the provided forms signed by you or your legal representative is to prevent misunderstandings at some later date.

Is DENIC able to advise me if I have a legal problem?

Naturally, it is DENIC's policy to assist its customers in any way it can when they have problems. However, it cannot give legal advice on individual cases. DENIC is not able to help you if, for instance, you want to know how to react to a written warning or what sort of chances you have of defending your domain in a legal dispute or how you can manage to force a domain holder to delete his/her domain. In such cases, you will have to seek specialist advice elsewhere, such as from a lawyer or a patent lawyer if trademark rights are the subject-matter. In Germany, the local professional chamber of lawyers (Rechtsanwaltskammer) and in some localities the local professional associations of lawyers (Anwaltsvereine) will be able to help you find the correct lawyer to handle your particular problem. Some of the German federal states have set up public legal-advice centres (Rechtsauskunftsstellen) and in some cases there may be a scheme of legal-aid vouchers to help you if you are unable to afford lawyers' fees. If in doubt about this last point, you will be able to get more information from the ministry of justice of the federal state concerned (Landesjustizministerium), or the nearest local court (Amtsgericht) might be able to assist you. In many cases, the best first step is often to try and find out more yourself by using the Internet, where there are many websites that provide legal information. There are also various mailing lists for online law, where you may find others willing to discuss your problem with you.

Can I insist on DENIC taking action against a domain that is infringing my rights?

The short answer is no. DENIC is at no time in a position to check whether or not the registration or use of a domain violates the rights of others. Moreover, DENIC has no duty to perform routine verifications of this nature. The German Federal Supreme Court said so quite clearly in its judgement of May 2001 in the “ambiente.de” case. Such a verification would, however, be the precondition for DENIC to intervene, since it ought to be clear to everybody that it cannot be permissible to take a domain away from its holder simply because someone else wants it. You certainly wouldn't want that if it was your domain that was at stake!

In these circumstances, you must pursue any disputes you may have on account of possible violations of your rights directly with the domain holder. DENIC will only take action once the dispute has been brought to a clear-cut conclusion, typically through a final judgement handed down by a court of law (ruling on the substance of the case).

What can I do if false or incomplete data are stored for a .de-domain?

If you yourself are the holder of the domain concerned and if it is administered by a provider, you ought to contact your provider immediately and tell him/her the correct data, so that it can be communicated to DENIC. If you are the domain holder and if your domain is being managed by DENICdirect, you should send your corrections to DENIC without delay, making sure you use the form provided for the purpose.

If DENIC has provided you with information on the holder of a specific third-party domain, upon individual request (read more on the Eligibility Criteria for Domain Holder Data Disclosure to Third Parties), and if subsequently you find the disclosed data to be incorrect, you can send your relevant observations to DENIC, provided you also submit evidence of the inaccuracy of the data, or provided it is obvious that the data is wrong. For this purpose, dual evidence must be supplied including, first of all, evidence of the failure to deliver to the domain holder a document at their postal address stored in DENIC’s registration data. Suitable means of verification might either consist of an envelope sent to the domain holder and returned by the postal service bearing an "unknown at this address" or "moved to an unknown address " postmark, or of a notice, issued by a court, that a formal notification of documents could not be delivered to such address. In no way will it be adequate evidence to show that the domain holder simply refuses to accept letters or does not collect (registered) letters from a post office, since in such circumstances, the domain holder might actually exist at the address registered. A returned envelope bearing postmarks saying "delivery refused " or "not collected" will thus not be accepted by DENIC as an adequate evidence of a false address. Secondly, an official notice provided by an appropriate register (i.e. the residents' registration office, in the case of a natural person, or the companies' or trade register, in the case of a legal person) needs to be submitted, stating that no person or company of the relevant name is residing at the given address.

If, after receiving information on the holder of a specific third-party domain from DENIC (read more on the Eligibility Criteria for Domain Holder Data Disclosure to Third Parties), you find that the respective holder’s registered e-mail address does not work, DENIC will follow up a related notification from your end in case you will provide us with appropriate evidence (such as a screenshot of a notice of non-delivery).

How can I get a DISPUTE entry?

To get a DISPUTE entry made in your name you must apply to DENIC. It is mandatory to use the appropriate form in the paper or online version, to sign it and to send the original to DENIC. Please note that you must have submitted a request to DENIC to get information about the holder of the domain on the applicable form before you can apply for a DISPUTE entry to be set. This request must have been made by the applicant within the month preceding the application for a DISPUTE entry. Please attach a written copy of the information received in response to the request to the application for a DISPUTE entry. This is particularly important, since, in signing the application, you confirm that you have already started the process of resolving the dispute with the domain holder or that you intend to do so very soon.

When you send your form to DENIC you must also enclose documentary evidence to show that there are reasonable grounds for claiming that you might have a right to the domain. Suitable documents for showing the existence of a potential right might be: in a case based on a trademark, the certificate granting you that mark, in a case based on a company, an excerpt from the commercial register, in a case based on your name, a copy of your identity card or passport, and in a case based on the name of a commune (i.e. a German local-government body), the commune's official letterhead.

Once you have applied to DENIC for a DISPUTE entry and DENIC has accepted your application, DENIC will send you confirmation with further guidance and an indication as to the period of validity of the DISPUTE entry. DENIC will also inform you if it decides that it cannot grant you a DISPUTE entry, possibly because there is insufficient evidence to support the rights you claim or possibly because there is already a DISPUTE entry on the domain. If you receive no communication from DENIC, you cannot automatically assume that DENIC has set up the DISPUTE entry. After 2-4 weeks, you should contact DENIC again and ask about the status of your application.

What happens if there is a DISPUTE entry in my name and the domain is deleted?

In such a case, you instantly become the new holder of the domain. DENIC will also communicate this fact immediately either to you in person or to your representative who originally set the DISPUTE entry for you. DENIC will also inform you as to what further steps you'll need to take.

Can I insist that DENIC 'block' a particular domain so that it can't be registered?

No. DENIC does not "block" domains in such a way that they are no longer available for registration. That even applies if you believe that you have rights on account of your name or a brand or trademark you own to stop anyone apart from yourself from holding a particular domain. Given the many thousands of millions of people and legal entities throughout the world, nobody can ever say for certain that they are unique and that there is no-else or no organization that might not have the right to register the domain for themselves. That fact that DENIC has no obligation to "block" domains was expressly confirmed in a judgement handed down by the Court of Appeals in Dresden when it found against a leading politician in the German federal state of Saxony who had taken action against DENIC with the aim of forcing it to "block" the registration of a domain called kurt-biedenkopf.de. Despite that, there is an easy way to prevent domains from being registered by others and then used in a way you would not like: you should get in first and register them yourself.

Can I insist that DENIC disconnects a domain if it is used to address a website with illegal or immoral contents?

If you are concerned with the contents of websites, the first thing you must do is to clearly understand the fundamental difference between websites and domains. It is possible to make a website reachable under a domain, but that is not the only way, since websites can be addressed by entering the appropriate IP address too. It is also possible for a website to be accessible through several domains and under a number of different Top Level Domains. To give you an example: the domains www.denic.de, www.nic.de and www.denic.info all route you to DENIC's website. A domain is actually only a reference to a computer ("host"), which itself (with the exception of the example just given) is not operated by DENIC, but by someone else. DENIC has no means of accessing such computers.

From this it follows that DENIC has nothing to do with either the contents or technicalities of websites accessible under .de domains. DENIC cannot determine the contents of websites (nor can it even influence them); it doesn't even have them saved on its own servers. All DENIC does is to provide the link between the domain and the website by registering the domain on its name servers.

From this, it is already clear that DENIC is not in a position to do anything to prevent the spread of a particular website. The most it could do would be to break its link with a particular domain. That wouldn't really achieve anything, since the possible legal or other problems concern the website itself and not its link to a particular domain. For this reason alone, DENIC is under no obligation to break such links, as has also already been confirmed in a court judgement.

But there is something else to be considered too. DENIC would, of course, only be able to intervene if it had first verified that the questionable website was indeed illegal or morally offensive. DENIC is not in a position to carry out such checks, nor does it have any duty to do so. It would actually be highly undesirable to want to impose such a duty on DENIC, because it would end up making DENIC into a general policing and censorship body for the whole Internet, insofar as it was active under .de.

What happens to the domain if its registered holder is a legal entity that suffers insolvency or is dissolved?

The insolvency of a domain holder has no impact on who holds the domain. It may, however, be that the right to dispose of it is transferred to a liquidator.

When a legal entity is dissolved, all its remaining assets are realized, and that includes any domains it may hold. That means that it is the liquidator who decides on what is to happen to these domains. DENIC cannot simply delete them.

What can I do if I believe that I have a right to a registered domain?

If you can submit appropriate documentary evidence of your rights, you can use the form provided by us to request information about the domain holder.

If you come to the conclusion that you have a right to the domain and intent to carry out a dispute about it with the domain holder, DENIC makes available the so-called DISPUTE entry to you.