Brent Oxley Loses Access to Create.com, Plus Millions of Dollars Worth of His Domains

March 18, 2021: Brent Oxley’s domain names have now been unlocked.

Brent Oxley, the founder of HostGator, has been accruing a portfolio of ultra-premium domain names since he sold his hosting company for close to $300 million in 2013. 

With purchases such as Give.com for $500,000, Broker.com for $375,000, and Texas.com for $1,007,500, Oxley has spent millions of dollars over the past few years accumulating this collection. According to his website, the portfolio is worth more than $25 million.

Oxley has now, however, lost access to a proportion of his portfolio after GoDaddy locked 25 domain names as a result of a lawsuit filed by an Indian domainer. 

Create.com, one of the most valuable domains Oxley has lost access to, is home to his new hosting company. Create.com’s launch was a much-anticipated return to the hosting industry for Oxley, where he made his mark founding HostGator. 

Oxley confirmed, though, that his new hosting business wouldn’t be affected by the locking of Create.com since the domain is only used for sales and has nothing to do with the hosting servers that keep his customer’s sites online.

 

The Indian Litigation

The locking of Oxley’s domains came about as a result of a civil suit filed in November 2019 by Puneet Agarwal in an Indian court. 

A translated copy of the suit is available to read here, but in short, Agarwal attests that he made a contractual agreement with Oxley to sell and acquire domain names for Oxley in return for a commission. The original suit mentions emails but no binding contractual document.

The PDF linked to above shows total costs of 820 Rupees in connection to filing this claim. That’s the equivalent of roughly $11.28. 

Upon approaching Agarwal before publishing, Agarwal declined to comment or offer any insight into the alleged contract.

Why were Oxley’s domains locked as a result of this filing? That’s because Agarwal claims he played a part in helping Oxley acquire the following domains:

Piano.com, Flute.com, Memo.com, Admirer.com, Darm.com, Devote.com, Demolish.com, Emir.com, Vtok.com, Vandalize.com, LoanTap.com, Advise.com, Message.com, Distribute.com, Detect.com, Jewel.com, Dust.com, Bonjour.com, and Viaje.com.

According to the court documents, Agarwal also negotiated the purchase of seven domain names now owned by Oxley and should have received a commission if not for Oxley’s supposed breach of contract.

Those domains are CIA.com, Drone.com, Item.com, Valentine.com, Bride.com, Hybrid.com, and Athlete.com. 

When reached for comment, Oxley denied the existence of any contract. Oxley still owns all of the domain names mentioned aside from Memo.com. Every domain name is registered with GoDaddy, except Vandalize.com.

As part of a fact-finding mission for this article, I reached out to brokers listed as facilitating deals for some of the domains listed to ask about Agarwal’s involvement. The brokers involved denied that Agarwal had any participation in the respective deals.

 

What About Create.com?

The eagle-eyed among you will notice that Create.com wasn’t mentioned in either list above. Create.com was, according to Oxley, only locked in February 2021 after Agarwal sent an email to Oxley’s lawyer. 

The email that Oxley showed me states that Agarwal “won’t be responsible” if “Create.com goes offline.” Agarwal goes on to say, “your client is doing an illegal thing by running a business on a disputed domain name.” 

Create.com was acquired in 2015, but Oxley states his relationship with Agarwal started when Agarwal contacted him in 2018. 

 

Oxley’s Texas Lawsuit

Oxley filed suit (PDF) in July 2020 in a Texas court to get an order to get his 25 domain names unlocked, a case that is ongoing. The court recently denied an injunction filed by Oxley, with the judge requesting a Hague Convention application instead.

A document filed to the court by case manager Byron Thomas (PDF) shows Agarwal sent an email to Thomas requesting that the court should “order Brent Oxley to pay me compensation of 11 million USD as per my losses from his cheating, fraud, willfull [sic] deception, and the loss of 7000 domains owned by me with 50‐50% partnership with Brent Oxley.” 

Upon contacting Oxley for comment, he provided me with a screenshot of an Escrow.com transaction purportedly created by Agarwal.

In the transaction (#7813820), titled “Mutual settlement of fight,” Agarwal offers to withdraw his case against Oxley and allow the registrar to unlock Oxley’s domain names.

In exchange for this, Agarwal is asking for $5 million, according to the screenshot provided. 

Oxley also sent screenshots of hundreds of emails and instant messages allegedly sent by Agarwal to Oxley.

In one string of 99 messages allegedly sent by Agarwal, numerous threats are made to Oxley, including “Ur [sic] ranch will burn one day,” “Ur [sic] car will catch fire,” “I will also take help from black magic,” and “I will pray to devil god to fulfill it.” 

In another string, messages include “Ur [sic] children will pay for ur [sic] bad karma,” “All ur [sic] money will be no use to them,” and “U [sic] will cry blood tears.”

I did reach out to Mr. Agarwal for comment on the article, but he declined.

 

Oxley Moves to Namecheap

In May 2020, I noticed that Oxley moved the majority of his domain name portfolio to Namecheap. In fact, every valuable domain Oxley owns was moved to Namecheap. The only other domain left at GoDaddy, aside from the locked names, was Create.com, which was locked in February 2021.

I understand that after Oxley moved his domains to Namecheap, Agarwal contacted Namecheap asking for Oxley’s names to be locked, a request that Namecheap declined. I contacted Namecheap for comment. I was told:

“Namecheap always puts our customers first, protecting their right, freedoms and valuable digital assets such as domain names. We have a proven track record of doing the right thing by our customers that includes fighting for their rights in court when deemed necessary. We do not lock or disable customer domains on a whim without the correct legal requirement.”

The 25 domain names have been locked by GoDaddy, Oxley’s registrar for these domains. The company’s universal terms of service agreement states that GoDaddy has the right to lock domain names for any reason, including to comply with court orders, which is typical for a domain registrar service agreement. Here, for example, is Google Domains’ terms of service. I reached out to GoDaddy for comment before the publication of this article, but I received no response.

Oxley, in an email to me, disputed the existence of any court order.

A quick look at India’s Ecourts filing (PDF) for Agarwal’s lawsuit shows a status of “Awaiting Services [sic] of notices/summons,” which seems to suggest Oxley hasn’t been served with a summons to appear. 

For balance, when asked directly about the status of the case, Agarwal did tell me, “[the] lawsuit has not been stalled in India.”  

An affidavit filed by Oxley’s Indian Advocate (PDF) also attests that Oxley has yet to be served, despite the case being open for more than a year. 

 

What Will Happen to Oxley’s Domains?

As of writing, 25 of Oxley’s domain names remain locked. I’m told that the domain names will be renewed if necessary, so they will not be expiring. 

Beyond that, what is the fate of Oxley’s names? It seems that the domain names will remain locked until the outcome of the Indian lawsuit is decided upon unless Oxley’s Texas lawsuit is successful before then. 

According to one source, the average civil suit in India has a duration of between three and six years. 

In the meantime, Agarwal has successfully halted Oxley’s use of a proportion of his valuable domain portfolio. With Oxley reporting in his court case that he has received over $5 million in offers on the locked domains, the standstill on his domaining activity has cost him dearly.

 

About James Iles

James Iles is a domain name industry writer and publisher of JamesNames.com. You can contact me here, or follow me on Twitter @jamesiles.

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NetOperator Wibby
NetOperator Wibby
1 month ago

I’m not buying domains on the legacy ‘Net anymore. Too much B.S. These days, I’m buying domains on the Handshake blockchain via Namebase.io.

I won’t go into full-on shill mode but if you want to help dismantle ICANN’s grip on the Internet and become your own registry for a lot less than $185k, it’s worth a look.

Michael Gargiulo
Michael Gargiulo
1 month ago

I spoke to Aman and Paul Nicks multiple times about this situation for Brent over the last 12 months about this situation. These locks interfered with over $900,000 in deals that VPN.com was working on for Brent. Significant delays and failed solutions were induced into our negotiations because of these locks. Outside of our deals, I am sure Brent’s total damages from domains that he would have sold are now over $3 million USD due to these locks… which should pain every domainer. While we have always been supportive of GoDaddy and its position in the domain industry over the… Read more »

Michael Anthony Castello
Michael Anthony Castello
1 month ago

Filing a lawsuit against GD is the legitimate publicity GD doesn’t want. I’ll mention it again- I sold Dust.com (one of the locked names) to Brent directly. I never dealt with someone in India.

Michael Gargiulo
Michael Gargiulo
1 month ago

Michael, I agree. Two names we acquired for Brent are locked. Those transactions were handled by Escrow.com through authenticated accounts. I just do not understand how this can happen. The chain of title is being disputed on names that clearly negate the dispute and/or have no contract included as evidence that suggests otherwise. Brent purchased Viaje.com through Uniregistry, so not sure how that was even eligible to be disputed in this way? These frivolous lawsuits will induce more “cancel culture” lawsuits throughout the domain industry. No different than Trump being canceled from Twitter. If someone doesn’t like you just open… Read more »

Dan Cera DomainTrader
Dan Cera DomainTrader
1 month ago

The Brent Oxley situation @godaddy is an absolute travesty and clear and convincing evidence of the fact that price should be the least of your considerations when you are deciding which domain name registrar you will choose to safeguard your valuable digital assets. As a direct result of the Brent Oxley situation I have decided to transfer my domains including domaintrader.com away from #GoDaddy and to terminate my business relationship with them effective immediately. I can only speak with my words and my wallet and in this instance I feel the overwhelming need to do both!

Gigi Barrette
Gigi Barrette
1 month ago

Moved thousands domains from GoDaddy to anywhere else in the past 2-3 years. I don’t see any advantage over other registrars. Nor in their pricing, their TOS, their support. Found alternatives, better ones.

What happens to Oxley is terrible. But he’s also put his eggs in the same basket. Makes you think what’s really going on here. Cause I don’t buy it.

I don’t.

MapleDots.ca
MapleDots.ca
1 month ago

A Canadian Registrar just chimed in…

“There is absolutely no circumstance in which we would deny clients access to their domains without a direct order from a Canadian court.”

https://dn.ca/post/5589/#p5589

Ben
Ben
1 month ago

Dear GoDaddy, I love GoDaddy and my partners love GoDaddy, we are about 20 years GoDaddy customers. We have huge domain portfolio in GoDaddy and everyday buying domains from GoDaddy auctions. Dear GoDaddy, if you want to be our Daddy many years more, please change your TOS, your policy, for your real customers, domainers benefıt. And stand by our sıde, protect our digital assets. We don’t want to live in fear every day, to see if something will happen to our digital assets. As all we see that GoDaddy reputation is bleeding very badly. I am not sure GoDaddy aware… Read more »

John Colascione
John Colascione
1 month ago

What is everyone’s opinion on the safest US based company to keep and protect domain names? A registrar who has shown to be the best, by example, of protecting the domain owner from any type of legal threat or transfer under any circumstances besides valid and specific court order? That line or two hidden in the TOS for Godaddy and Uniregistry is terrible.

MapleDots.ca
MapleDots.ca
1 month ago

This is big news in Canada and is being discussed on our Canadian forums and clubhouse. The most senior domainers with large portfolios have expressed interest to move away from godaddy. I think godaddy needs to do more than unlock the domains I think they need to give assurances to the domaining industry. If that does not happen I fear they will become shunned by the domaining industry. A well know domainer that most of you know called me Saturday and asked me if I was moving away. I told him I have not come this far by making rushed… Read more »

Matt
Matt
1 month ago

Brent,

Try to get that in ArsTechnica, Techmeme, TechCrunch, and anywhere else you can. People should know about this.

Michael Anthony Castello
Michael Anthony Castello
1 month ago

If you want the most control and protection for your domain portfolio, you can always become an accredited registrar with ICANN. Hope you don’t mind me posting the link: https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/accreditation-2012-02-25-en

George Kirikos
George Kirikos
1 month ago

Only if ICANN likes you. Recall they denied the ability recently for Peter Sunde’s company to become a registrar, see:

https://torrentfreak.com/icann-refuses-to-accredit-pirate-bay-founder-peter-sunde-due-to-his-background-210303/

Michael Anthony Castello
Michael Anthony Castello
1 month ago
Reply to  George Kirikos

A good read, thanks

Stefan
Stefan
1 month ago

What I find mindboggling is that people still use Godaddy at all. Godaddy has been pulling so much shit over the years, I wouldn’t let them handle our assets even if they paid us money.

That being said, I hope you’ll get it sorted out, Brent. Good luck and all the best.

Brad Mugford
Brad Mugford
1 month ago

James, I just wanted to say thanks for bringing this issue to our attention. The NamePros thread is quite active.

https://www.namepros.com/threads/brent-oxley-loses-access-to-create-com-plus-millions-of-dollars-worth-of-his-domains.1230431/

If some random lawsuit, in some random court, in some random country is going to lead to GoDaddy locking domains without a court order, or even being served, including a domain that was not even part of the lawsuit… Who is going to feel secure with assets there?

GoDaddy needs to clean this mess up ASAP.

Brad

Dan Cera DomainTrader
Dan Cera DomainTrader
1 month ago
Reply to  Brad Mugford

Hi Brad: Great to see you positing here. The thing is it doesn’t even take a court order! READ THE TERMS OF SERVICE 14) GoDaddy expressly reserves the right to deny, cancel, terminate, suspend, lock, or modify access to (or control of) any Account or Services (including the right to cancel or transfer any domain name registration) for any reason (as determined by GoDaddy in its sole and absolute discretion) But the kicker is their limitation on liability READ THE TERMS OF SERVICE Limitation of Liability In no event, under any circumstances shall GoDaddy be liable for an amount in… Read more »

Mike
Mike
1 month ago

@Bobby, @Fat Anon, where do you get the completely fatuous idea that US courts are the only competent ones in the world? The utter illusion that you are the only ones who deal in domain names?

No Indian or any other court has passed judgement of any kind to date. GoDaddy, a USA registered business and registrar, USA, did you fatheads get that, decided to lcok those domains, not “Johnny Foreigner”. Neither court nor registrar.

Babu
Babu
1 month ago

It’s time to all domains to namecheap.com.

Samer
Samer
1 month ago
Reply to  Babu

They’re not too cheap .com renewal,

Thanks though!

Samer

Michael Gargiulo
Michael Gargiulo
1 month ago

Nice article, James. At VPN.com, we brokered a number of deals for Brent in 2019 and 2020. Early last year we were working on completing the sale of Encrypt.com for Brent and Francois from Domaining.com. During this negotiation we discovered this Indian litigation by Puneet and the resulting GoDaddy locks of nearly $10 million in domains of Brent’s portfolio. Francois also commented on this issue below. As James and I discussed this past week, about 25 of Brent’s names were locked including several we previously brokered, CIA.com and Detect.com. We found this highly suspicious because each of these transactions were… Read more »

George Kirikos
George Kirikos
1 month ago

I’m not a lawyer, but the part “To make this an even bigger debacle, Puneet’s entire litigation and evidence were served to Brent and our team.. in Hindi.” seems very odd. When my company sued in an Ontario to protect our Pupa(.)com domain name against an Italian company that filed a UDRP, we had to serve the Italian company via the Hague Convention. This meant that we had to translate, at our own expense, the English court documents into Italian (even though the company in Italy had counsel that understood English, they refused to accept service on their behalf, so… Read more »

Jason
Jason
1 month ago

The reason (an assumption) why Godaddy locked account of Oxley on a lawsuit filed by Indian domainer – is – Godaddy has physical offices and presence in India as a PVT.LTD. registered company and it has to follow the law of the land (since the domainer has filed case in Indian court). But it may not have locked Oxley’s account if it was Pakistani/Bangladeshi domainer – since Godaddy does not has any official presence in those countries. SO its not about ‘Indians’ but its merely Godaddy is law-abiding company (in India). Oxley has moved majority of his portfolio to Namecheap… Read more »

Mika
Mika
1 month ago

What a terrible series of events. It goes to show that even if you have good names, you need reserves to not only defend from frivolous UDRP complaints, but now from people who think they have rights to your names because you have simply responded to their emails…

Neeraj Verma
Neeraj Verma
1 month ago

I am moving all my domains out of Godaddy. Not worth keeping them there.

Franklin McKinney
Franklin McKinney
1 month ago

FYI all : Puneet is barybadrinath on NamePros. He’s been found guilty of cybersquatting in two URDPs. One was for FacebookEngineering.com.

Logan
Logan
1 month ago

Does this mean we need to transfer all of our domain names away from Uniregistry now too?

Warren Royal
Warren Royal
1 month ago
Reply to  Logan

That’s what I want to know too.

Namegeek
Namegeek
1 month ago
Reply to  Logan

Uniregistry Registration and Service Agreement Revised January 7, 2021 2.6 Domain Name Disputes, In General ‘If we are notified that a complaint has been filed with a judicial or administrative body regarding your domain name, we may, in our sole discretion, suspend your ability to use your domain name or to make modifications to your registration records until (i) we are directed to do so by the judicial or administrative body, or (ii) we receive notification by you and the other party contesting your domain that the dispute has been settled. Furthermore, you agree that if you are subject to… Read more »

BullS
BullS
1 month ago

This is f insane, now anybody in India can follow this scam!!

How come this issue was not brought up to the GD CEO during the namecon?

Real Bulls
Real Bulls
1 month ago
Reply to  BullS

Anybody in USA can also follow this scam or anybody from European countries can also follow this scam. BS you are full of racism

Brent
Brent
1 month ago

Puneet spent a little over $12 in India, and without proof, a contract, or even a court order, was able to abuse Godaddy’s policy and lock over $10mm worth of my domains! These names have been locked for over a year now, and I’ve spent $10,000’s in legal bills trying to get a court order to get them unlocked as Godaddy requires. (covid hasn’t made it easy with the courts) The legal fees pale in comparison to the millions in deals I’ve had to turn down. The lock prevents you from changing a domain’s DNS or transferring it, which means… Read more »

David J Castello
David J Castello
1 month ago
Reply to  Brent

This just put the nail in the coffin for us ever registering anything on GoDaddy.com

Jagan
Jagan
1 month ago
Reply to  Brent

Very sorry to hear about the lock. It takes many years in the 10-20s for the Indian court system to process civil cases. The government has therefore created the eCourt system for faster processing. Sorry to see it being abused without a written contract with you. Godaddy locking your domains is with an abundance of caution I guess but they should not lock until a local court does the ruling. I have decided to move away all my domains from Godaddy to Namecheap due to this pitfall. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.… Read more »

Jawed
Jawed
1 month ago
Reply to  Brent

I’m positive Puneet is insane.”

What about GoDaddy? lol

Furhan
Furhan
1 month ago
Reply to  Brent

Sorry that you had to deal with this but bravo for not paying him a penny. If it can happen to the big domainers, what hope to the small guys have?

John
John
1 month ago
Reply to  Brent

Brent, after reviewing this appalling matter, as far as I’m concerned you should be suing for far more than just unlocking the domains, and I sure hope you do (or are). It would be good and best for yourself, everyone, the industry, even the world no less. Also see my comments at TheDomains and DomainInvesting.

On a side note, props again for the years of what I regard to be a golden age of hosting when HG was such a beacon of excellence before you left. Those were really some days before the plunge into similar decline.

John
John
1 month ago
Reply to  Brent

(PS, comments at TheDomains not appearing yet pending moderation.)

Ben
Ben
1 month ago

I will def be moving my domains from Godaddy asap, can’t trust them legally any longer.

Bobby
Bobby
1 month ago

Any court outside of the USA should not have this kind of power. Further, what an awful time for this to happen with all digital assets seemingly going parabolic at the moment (high end domains, crypto, nfts, etc.)

Samer
Samer
1 month ago

Shame, Registrar ability lock him out.

Oxley knows who the community rooting for. Good luck, Brent!

Following your Texas case.
This is wrong, so many levels, Brent.

Godaddy? they dont deserve you.
Keep us posted,

Samer

George
George
1 month ago

Godaddy is an absolute joke. It’s a shame really to see a brand that powerful being tarnished again and again due to the incompetence of some people in key positions. There are numerous issues going on with their platform, with the response usually being we know about it but it’s not in the top of our priorities. Despite that, they went ahead and locked domains because of an indian lawsuit? It’s unbelievable. If I was in Oxley’s position and godaddy’s actions caused me any sort of damage or inconvenience, I wouldn’t think twice about suing them.

James Booth
James Booth
1 month ago

This is an absolute joke! The fact someone can do something like this for $11 is beyond ridiculous. Brent is one of the most honest, straight shooting guys out there. Not once had any issues. He has benefited this industry massively and I find it disgusting he has to go through this with threats to him and his family while someone tries to extort him. This POS belongs in jail!

Matts
Matts
1 month ago
Reply to  James Booth

Just to play the devil’s advocate, what if Brent cheated him out of commission? What if Brent did have some sort of partnership with him?

John Berryhill
John Berryhill
1 month ago
Reply to  Matts

What if you don’t get your merchandise from Amazon.com? Does the domain name get locked? No. There are all sorts of commercial disputes which are brought and adjudicated without tangentially-involved domain names being locked.

Fat Anon
Fat Anon
1 month ago

Why does GD bend over? Because they have legal presence in India? Lesson to use but US-only registrars.

Francois
Francois
1 month ago

Oxley discovered this lawsuit when I sold him encrypt.com for cash + domains one year ago with the help of Michael Gargiulo of VPN.com. Brent was unable to push me 2 domains… That’s when he called GoDaddy.com to learn about a claim from an unknown guy in India who apparently had filed a frivolous lawsuit on a large collection of his premium domains. It was incredible that GoDaddy locked all these domains overnight without even inform the owner. This is a scary story that I thought will be resolved quickly but apparently continues. It’s terrible!!!

Mark Thorpe
Mark Thorpe
1 month ago
Reply to  Francois

Does not surprise me that GoDaddy locked the domains without informing Brent first.

Jason
Jason
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Thorpe

Well, Godaddy pulls(automated or manually is a question) domains from customers accounts after day 29-30 in the drop/domain expiration process, if the domain has a bid on the domain at Godaddy Auctions, but WITHOUT NOTICE to the customer.. And on the other hand allows the domains registered with other registrars the ability to renew domains after day 30 with bids.. So, no surprise Brent did not receive a simple automated or manual email from GoDaddy noting the domains had been locked with an explanation of why… Class action lawsuit or Civil suit or mass exodus from Godaddy..? Something needs to… Read more »