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Google registrar sold google.com – what actually happened

After finding out this morning what happened (thanks Franko Rados and Domagoj Delimar), I rushed over to the post, and read from the person in question that he was able to purchase google.com domain name. First of all the title is somewhat misleading, and the comments prove that people misunderstood the situation.

Domain ownership

First, lets explain how domain ownership is viewed and proved. Domain ownership check is done strictly via the WHOIS! And guess what, in the whois we saw that Google was and is the owner of google.com. Markmonitor handles their domains, and the DNS Admin from within Google Inc is responsible for Google.com domain name. I can bet you that their domain name is locked for transfers, and it expires 2020-09-14. Those are the facts verified by our whois API. You can either register a domain that’s available, or transfer a domain that’s registered. The person hasn’t started a transfer they “registered” a new domain. (so the Google’s registry web shop would lead him to believe).

google.com whois record
google.com whois record

 

So I can assure you there wasn’t any ownership change, and Google Inc. was and is the owner of google.com The domain name hasn’t expired (and even if it has expired, you would have seen some sort of Markmonitor notification to contact them, and there would be several domain related periods like redemption, deletion, etc. before a new owner could be in place).

So what exactly happened?

Google recently started selling domain names. Obviously there are several ways you can do that, but let’s stay on the topic. Google started their own domain registry, and they are selling the domain names. In order to do that, and this is the fun part for us at WhoAPI, you need to be able to check if a certain domain name is available for registration or not. Sometimes, for various reasons, that check can fail. Large and old domain registrars like Godaddy, Enom, Network Solutions obviously have the technology in place (including a failsafe) that prevents misleading information.

If the domain checker fails to get the right information on domain availability, the “web shop” widget (lets call it that way), allows the user to purchase this available domain. To Google’s misfortune, the domain in question was google.com! So basically what happened Google sold this falsely available domain, that’s google.com. Nobody knows if there were other domains also available at the moment, but it looks like google.com was!

For the sake of this explanation, let’s say that I have a domain registry, and had the same domain check error and displayed that google.com was available. You could have clicked “purchase” the transaction would go through, and you could see in our administration that you “own” google.com. But you wouldn’t take it seriously because we are not Google. But when Google makes this mistake, everybody gets on their feet.

Written by Goran Duskic

I am the founder and CEO at WhoAPI. Entrepreneur for more than a decade in the hosting and domain industry. Sold my previous company. 500 Startups and StartLabs alumni. Author of a white paper "Domain Disclosure: Dirty Dozen" and eBook "26 Fundraising Questions for Startups".

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