How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Ash Your Own Question
Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
75100385
Type Your Law Question Here...
Ash is online now

10 years ago, I set up a small education company in India to

Resolved Question:

10 years ago, I set up a small education company in India to help poor people.
It is called XXX Ltd. I own most of the shares. I have a CEO and a team in India who run it. It's done well, I don’t make any money out of it, but it changes people’s lives.
4 years ago, my wife and I set up a company in the UK called YYY Ltd to help kids who can’t read properly. I got funding of £250k from a high net worth guy in the UK. He took a majority stake. I didn’t check the contract properly. Per the contract, they own the name XXX.
To cut a long story short, my wife and I got bullied out the company. We are now in the 3rd month of our notice period. We didn’t do constructive dismissal because a) we couldn’t afford it and b) we now live in Spain.
But the Board of YYY are still trying to bully us.
They want us to give them the Indian company’s URL. But my understanding is that no matter what I signed in the YYY contract, whether or not they own the name XXX in the UK, this URL is an asset of the Indian company and YYY cannot take it away. And it would be wrong of me to give away a company asset like that.
What do you advise?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts :

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.

Alex Watts :

Just to be clear is this a UK law question?

Customer:

Yes. The YYY company are in London. Our contract with YYY was under UK law.

Customer:

But our XXX company is in India and operates under Indian law (although their laws are mostly similar to ours.)

Alex Watts :

I can only give you advice on UK law if that helps? It may be that Indian law is the same, but I am a UK lawyer.

Customer:

I understand. It's a UK dispute.

Customer:

Please go ahead.

Alex Watts :

Is there anything in any contract that states YYY own the URL?

Customer:

I've just checked the contract - it says they own the domains.

Customer:

"the domains held at godaddy.com" to be precise

Customer:

Which includes the domain we are concerned about - www.readingwise.net

Customer:

When we signed the contract, we were using that domain for both the Indian company AND the UK company, but a year ago we split the website.

Customer:

So the UK company for a year now has been using www.readingwise.com, while the Indian company has been using www.readingwise.net

Alex Watts :

Ok and they want the .com domain too?

Customer:

No, they already have it and we hare happy for them to keep it.

Customer:

What is in dispute is the .net domain.

Alex Watts :

Ok, that is the one you own?

Customer:

Yes, I bought it about 8 years ago, ages before we set up the UK company.

Alex Watts :

Ok. Then you dont need to give it to them.

Alex Watts :

Its your domain

Alex Watts :

You are using it for XXX ltd I assume

Alex Watts :

If so that is fine. They can't stop

Alex Watts :

The only thing they can do is go to the domain name dispute service WIPO

Alex Watts :

They can adjudicate on the domain

Alex Watts :

But YYY can't make you give it over

Alex Watts :

They have no right to it - the domain belongs to yo

Alex Watts :

* you *

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer:

Sounds good!

Customer:

So let me summarise to make sure I have it right...

Alex Watts :

Of course

Customer:

Even though I signed a contract with Ideaswise in 2013 signing over the domains that I had registered at GoDaddy, the fact that I had bought the readingwise.net domain several years earlier, and it had been in continued use by the Indian company means the Indian company can keep it.

Alex Watts :

Yes.

Alex Watts :

Unless they have been paying for the domain renewal. If so, then you would be stuck.

Customer:

Ah....

Alex Watts :

But in any event the dispute is between you and YYY Ltd.

Alex Watts :

XXX Ltd has nothing to do with the dispute!

Customer:

I am the registrar of the domain which I bought on behalf of the Indian company. There were some occasions when the UK company would have paid the renewal fees, but that was an oversight because GoDaddy charges blanket renewals automatically, and I am now paying the renewal fees. I suppose I should reimburse the uK company for the renewal fees! It's only a few quid.

Alex Watts :

I think the problem is YOU agreed to sign over the domain. They also paid the renewal fees.

Alex Watts :

You can still refuse to hand over the domain and they can try and take it to WIPO who can adjudicate.

Customer:

oh

Customer:

But I can argue that I was wrong to do so, I did not have a board mandate, it was an asset of the company, so shoot me!

Alex Watts :

Yes you can argue that.

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer:

No, that's fine, thank you very much, you've been very helpful.

Ash and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I wrote to you some months ago with a problem concerning our former employees, IdeasWise Ltd. We were founders, shareholders, and employees, but we resigned after prolonged bullying from the CEO. We couldn't afford the time or money for an unfair dismissal case.

We have now received a legal letter alleging that we are reselling their program illegally in India and Spain, and demanding that we sign a reseller agreement with them, and hand our 20% of shares back to them for nothing.

We have no desire whatsoever to resell their product anywhere. I am a semi-retired pensioner living in Spain with no assets who does part-time humanitarian work in India, which they know full well. This is just plain bullying. I can't afford to hire a solicitor. I can't afford to fly to London to fight them in court. Their funder has a personal net worth over £200m. They are just being vindictive. How can I stop them harrassing us?