Whois the Owner of Your Online Presence?

Business owners spend lots of time ensuring that they are the legal owner of an idea yet, their domain is not theirs. Learn how to get legal whois control.

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One of the most valuable assets your brand has is it’s online location, AKA domain name, URL, website address, or www. It’s the very identity of many businesses (amazon.com) and a critical cornerstone of more traditional brick and more stores. Yet, you would be stunned about the number of businesses that are not named the legal owner of that most valuable property.

Many business owners spend in ordinate amounts of time ensuring that they are the legal owner of an idea (patent), the legal owner of their logo (trademark), the legal owner of their business space, equipment, etc. Yet, for one of the most valuable assets any business holds, they turn the purchase of it over to someone else and then never bother to get the account credentials and legal ownership of the domain name.

I’m willing to bet that nearly 90% of those of you reading this post — who have a website, can’t tell me right now who the legal owner of your domain name is. And what is particularly sad, 75% of those ARE NOT THE LEGAL OWNER.

Whois LookupReady to find out if you’re the legal owner? It’s easy to check, just go to your favorite domain provider (or click here) and put in your domain name. Once you decode the ever-exciting human-proving captcha, you’ll see a page that looks much like the image to the right. What you’re looking for is the “Registrant.” If you are not listed as the registrant, you are NOT the legal owner of the domain. It needs to not only display your name (or your company’s name) but also your contact information in this area.

This means that whoever is listed as the registrant is the person or company that can determine what website displays at the address, how your email addresses behave, and whether you ever get the opportunity to make any of those choices about that domain name ever again.

If you are listed as the Registrant and your contact information is available — you can call the Registrar and (eventually) get complete control of the domain. If you are not listed — or your contact information is missing or wrong you have NO RIGHTS with regard to the domain. And you are dependent on the goodwill and availability of the person or company who is listed.

So, now that you’ve looked up the legal owner determined you’re not it…you’re probably wondering what to do. First things first, call the person or company listed as the Registrant and see what it will take for them to change the Registrant information to be you. AND while you’re at it, ask them to push the domain to an account that you can have the username and password to. Be kind, patient, and understanding — at least until you get control of the domain. Keep at it, owning your online presence is a fight worth fighting.


Tisha Oehmen

Tisha Oehmen is a professional brand strategist and a leader in the branding field. She was recently named a member of the Global Guru’s Top 30 Brand Gurus. She is also the co-founder of Oregon-based Paradux Media Group and the best-selling author of the book, Finding Brand: The Brand Book Tutorial.

Possessing expertise in both front- and back-office operations, Tisha conceptualizes, develops, and implements initiatives to foster brand effectiveness like no other. With over 15 years of experience in branding and marketing, Tisha has successfully led large financial institutions and health care companies down the path of renaming their business.

Where Tisha really shines is in the work that isn’t done. Sometimes a name change for a business isn’t in their best interest and after meeting with Tisha, they are able to find the true value and equity that has always been in their brand. Tisha has a special knack of being able to communicate the value so that the CEO/Business owner can see its luster and then with a little polishing, make it shine company wide.

Tisha is best known for developing long lasting branding campaigns that speak to the heart of the business, the brand, and the community. True brand, no matter how big or small, has longevity. Creating branding campaigns that have longevity, that have a laser-like focus, is where Tisha thrives.

Tisha received her M.B.A. from the University of Oregon, from where she also earned a B.A. in Political Science. She enjoyed a distinguished academic career punctuated by enthusiastic and successful participation in competitive speaking events, and holds numerous awards for her skill in public speaking. Tisha is widely recognized for her ability to capture an audience’s attention with her straightforward and engaging speaking style.

When not working, she enjoys golfing, baking, reading, and hiking with her partner, Mike, and their two dogs, Chloe and Jackson. She’s also an active member of Rotary International, the Chamber of Commerce, and is a very proud supporter of the Oregon Ducks. Tisha lives in Eagle Point, Oregon.

Reader Interactions


  1. Calra says

    I believe that it is important that it is clear and acknowledged that we are our own’s owner. 🙂 Sure take some working to do, but will be so fruitful in the end. Right? 🙂

  2. Veronica says

    I’m one of the 90% that can’t tell you who is the owner of their site and I am also one of the 75% who are not the owner of their site. It is an eye-opener. Thanks for sharing!

    • Tisha Oehmen says

      Hi Veronica, I’m so sorry to hear you’re not the owner…yet. But this is a great time to get control of it and make it your own. 🙂 Knowledge is power. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Abhishek says

    A very informative and eye opening post. These are small things we don’t pay attention to which can create big problems. Thanks for this wonderful share.

  4. Vianney says

    The sad part is that it isn’t me. The sadder part is that I don’t even know who owns it. But the saddest is that I don’t if I can own it ever. 🙁 Thanks to you post, I think I got some ideas. :))

    • Tisha Oehmen says

      Vianney, I’m so sorry to hear that it’s not you. There should be contact information on the whois. Start by making a phone call, and then keeping it going until you’re the rightful owner. You can do it, but it will take patience and persistence. It’s a fight worth winning though.

  5. Arianne says

    I want to own my own online presence. I wish I could. Thanks to you, it seems legit and possible 🙂 Awesome work!

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