My domain held hostage for $60,000 – Wake up, Smell the coffee!

Posted on July 6th, 2009 by Jim

HELP me fellow internet goers! I’m in a spot of bother…..

A $60,000 demand for my domain name www.gosmellthelfowers.com has given me the biggest wake up call of my life! The domain is being held hostage – flattering, frustrating and annoying rolled into one and I’m at a loss of what to do next but am determined to brush myself down and get back in the race.

coffee-heart

It was taken from me by someone who I thought was a friend and a flower-friendly one at that who claims to ‘turns frowns upside down’. Someone I brought on board at GO! Smell the flowers 12 months after the site had been up through an affiliate relationship.

His demand is I pay him $50,000 (that increase by $10,000 per month starting July 1st 2009) to have my domain transfered back to me. I’m hoping with the viral power of the internet I can stop this happening to other people and possbily get the flowers domain back as I consider all my options. Luckily our contributors are up for smelling the coffee with me as the community continues.

Despite buying the domain gosmelltheflowers in early 2006 and launching the website soon after followed by the trademark, the ISBN book number for the book I have lost access to the .com. Thanks to a quick thinking tech friend we’ve saved all the previous work and re-hosted safely back at 1&1 and start our quest to get flowers back. Three years of tip-tapping away everyday leading to new friends all over the world and media coverage thankfully hasn’t been lost.

At the time of writing GO! Smell the flowers has enjoyed 2,421 posts (articles) from 35 writers that led to 48,302 comments being made at the site as we started to blossom into the online community we’d hoped we’d be. With 4,500 following ‘flowersmeller’ at blogcatalog, a facebook group, almost 1,800 twitter followers picking up on my tweets , 18 brand based videos on http://www.youtube.com/user/GoSmelltheflowers and an active presence at smelltheflowers on stumbleupon. 

Isn’t this proof enough who the rightful owner is? Our writers think so and have agreed to carry on writing here as the community continues so a big THANKS to them! Aside from this the tip-tapping passion I’ve had for the site with various web designers, tech teams, affiliates and countless over the top conversations about the online community with a difference.  I’ll be spending the next week re-writing the content of the other pages as the transition from flowers to coffee is born.

We’ve had lots of ups and downs over the years but I didn’t see my domain name being held to ransom.

On June 22nd 2009 I was told that  www.gosmellthelfowers.com was no longer mine, bye-bye and as I’d transfered my domain from www.1and1.co.uk to www.godaddy.com the password was then changed. It feels like having the car keys but no being able to access the garage.

I truly hope your domain names are safe and will spend the next couple of weeks raising awareness, building the coffee community and really appreciate your initial thoughts on what I should do next. I’ll post every other day detailing the history, the ups and the down of the last 3 years.

At least our content and community spirit is intact  – thanks to an unsung tech hero who has saved 3 years work and hosted it all here! That’s life, right? As Frank Sinatra once said as some people get their kicks stomping on a dream:

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So welcome to GO! Smell the coffee! I’m trying to leave my emotions out of my next step but welcome your thoughts and measured opinions on what you think of the situation and what I should about it.

Share your comments right here and please do forward this post on to everyone you know as we try to harness the viral power of the internet! I’d hate it to happen to anyone else, blog, business or otherwise! Cheers and grab yourself a quick brew as people tell people and get this story out!

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Thank you for your support and please spread the word by sending this post to others!


178 Responses to “My domain held hostage for $60,000 – Wake up, Smell the coffee!”

  1. [...] GO! Smell the flowers  was then stolen and I was flatteringly held to a $60,000 ransom to get the website and all the content back having naively given all my domain information to a so called ‘ business partner’. However, it happened for a reason and led to the formation of GO! Smell the coffee and this post on July 6th 2009 in a bid to get the site back. [...]

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  14. RYK says:

    It really is unfortunate to see that someone has resorted to posting impostor comments. It is these very type of actions that led to my disgust with Jim’s behavior. I do not wish to defend myself against an army of Jim and his imposters. It is very unfortunate that this project blew up. Jim has every right to start a new site, but to 1. claim I have stolen the older site; 2. to claim that he owned the gosmelltheflowers.com 3. to copy content of gosmelltheflowers.com is sad and shameful.

  15. Svasti says:

    Perhaps this comment from “Emma” is the fake?? After all, its now been posted several times on different threads here.

    Will the real Emma please stand up?
    .-= Svasti´s last blog ..Tiggers like to bounce =-.

  16. Jim says:

    FOLKS I’VE NO IDEA WHO POSTED THE EMMA W IMPOSTER COMMENT, AT ALL – THAT WHY WE HAVE AVATARS!!!

    THE FLOWER AVATAR ABOVE, IN BLACK AND WHITE IS EMMA WHEAT’S AVATAR – I TOOK THE PICTURE AT A THAI SPA – IT WAS IN A FLOWER POT….

    I TEXTED EMMA TO LET HER KNOW COFFEE WAS LIVE, SHE WAS AWARE OF THE SHIFT AFTER BEING HELD TO RANSOM.

    BLIMEY – THERES ENOUGH REALITY HERE WITHUOT IMPOSTER COMMENTS!!

    EMMA – LETS GO! GET PUBLISHED!

  17. Emma says:

    Svasti, when you see the avitar with the flowers it is MEEEEEE.

    I posted the comment twice, before as I thought it would get ‘lost’ in the thread.
    .-= Emma´s last blog ..Kathleen and Clinically Clueless are now friends =-.

  18. Jim says:

    Agreed – imposter comments are unacceptable for sure!

  19. Jim says:

    **Applause**

    My ‘behavior’?

    How about we set up a poll to the masses who can decide who should own the GSTF domain name with all this taken into account?

    I’m so up for that RYK,

    Lets!

  20. RYK says:

    Jim,
    good luck with GoSmellTheCoffee and all your future endeavors. I do not wish to publicly or privately slander you. I have posted my view and I think Emma has also clarified her position.

    You were never the sole owner of GSTF and its wrong that you claim to be so. It is worse that you claim that I have stolen it from you. It is very sad that you have resorted to such slander.

    Our contributing founders and regular visitors by now have read through allegations and counter allegations and must decide if they would like to continue to associate with you:
    1. GTSF was never solely yours as you have claimed. It belongs to all 3 of us.
    2. There is no question of stealing any domain. The domain belongs to the partnership as do the servers. The servers are in the same place as they have been for years; and the domain since March 2009. How could it have been stolen?
    3. Yes, there was an offer for you to buy it out, but instead you have copied the content of GSTF and placed it on a new server and made false claims. This is wrong, criminal and unethical. If you had something to sort out you should have done so privately with your partners, instead of copying all the content over to a new domain and slandering my name.

  21. RYK says:

    Gary, not sure why you would think I’m a “shyster”. Surely not our online debates? Those were all in fun.

    On my part I have tried to build GSTF by guiding Jim on the content as well as implementing technology. All in the background, but that does not diminish my contribution! I have spent hours & dollars each month on working my contribution. I have paid founders, paid for the technical upkeep of the website, even paid for the domain and paid for personnel to maintain this site.

    I have posted above about how I saw us partners mistreated by Jim. Emma’s equity was “taken” away…why? how? I was subject to unreasonable demands…why?

    Now this whole episode of slandering my name and claiming I “stole” GSTF. Jim has misused his trust and relastionship with contributors of GTSF to paint me in the wrong light. Its ofcourse human nature to believe someone one is associated with over a relative stranger, so it worked.

    1. This whole concept of “his” site stolen is absurd. How can gosmelltheflowers.com which is AS IS be labeled as stolen? Its on the same servers, the same regsistrar, etc for years and months. I have not changed anything !

    2. Jim has infact blocked my access to GSTF and placed a redirect on GSTF to this site. If anything, my rights and permissions to gosmelltheflowers.com have been stolen

    3. Jim has copied all the content of GSTF to this new site. Who has done the stealing? You judge.

    4. To justify his actions he has emailed everyone stating that his site was stolen and redirecting them to this new site.

    What Jim has done is truly sad. You have heard both sides, please decide for yourselves.

  22. Fertile Fish says:

    You know what RYK The Thief, I rather think we have decided for ourselves.

    And Uncle Cyril is 100% correct, you are a shyster.

    Snigger snigger snigger

  23. RYK says:

    Hi FF, there has been no reassignment of anything to anyone. Everything is as it has. Check the link Deep provided, the domain was last updated in 16th March 2009. Check the servers, they are the same for 2 years+.

    Jim Wheat has copied all the content on GSTF and posted it here on this domain. Why do that? He has also locked me out of GSTF.

    Some may consider $50,000 for a domain outrageous. After having contributed 3 years to the project, paying for all the hosting, the domain, the tech support, innumerable flower contests and various other marketing initiatives, I think $50,000 to relinquish my rights is fair. I have records of having spent over $30,000 on GSTF and the balance is the very least that can be paid for my time. And I did not demand this upfront, but rather payabale when able.

    No matter what my fee to relinquish my right, has Jim done the right thing:
    1. Copied content of GoSmellTheFlowers.com to this new site.
    2. Locked me out of the other site
    3. Placed a redirect on gosmelltheflowers to this site
    4. Slandered my name, calling me a thief, etc.

    What do all these things have to do with business of a quoted fee?

    Nothing at all. He has slipped out of paying me off, and covered his tracks by creating this whole fairly tale of his domain being stolen and attacked me through his various online impersonations and avtaars.

    I urge this community to boycott GoSmellTheCoffee, which has been built on lies and deceit. Deep and others, who know and understand these things technically, I request you to think deeply about what has occurred and ask yourself:
    1. Was it right that gosmelltheflowers website and content was copied in entirety to gosmellthecoffee ? That content after all is hosted on servers which are not the property of gosmellthecoffee or jim wheat

    2. Was it right that I was locked out of GoSmellTheFlowers?

    3. Was it right that my name was slandered here, and I was called a thief?

    4. Was it right that a redirect has been placed on gosmelltheflowers.com to this domain?

    (ps, I think its interesting that FF is responding to my comments rather than Jim, probably just one of his many avtaars)

  24. Svasti says:

    Hi Thief,

    If the domain was/is a shared property, then what have you done by changing the ownership details, changing the password etc? Am I right that Jim and Emma no longer have passwords for accessing the domain?

    Is this not stealing? Most people here think it is!!

    If the project is worth nothing and there’s no revenue in it, how can you justify your random figure of $60K an additional $10K each month. Where did you pull that one from? A cereal box?

    Actually, if you now are the only one with access to the domain, surely that means you owe both Jim and Emma money, according to your twisted logic?

    And let’s see, if you had a 30% share worth $60K (according to you)… how much does that mean you owe your other two ‘partners’ who no longer have access to the domain?

    As for your crazed allegation that Jim has stolen the content… ummm, exactly how many articles have you written here? Umm… gee… must be at least… a tiny handful! Most of the content belongs to Jim and the other contributors.

    So… who did he “steal” the content from exactly? Oh wait, you said… the project… which you claim is jointly owned by the three of you (and not just you)?

    And that’s somehow “wrong”, compared to you changing the domain ownership details to your own? Explain that to me in a way that makes sense??

    Ummm, if you’re keeping the domain so no one else can use it, best you pay up to Jim and Emma, I’m thinking…
    .-= Svasti´s last blog ..Tiggers like to bounce =-.

  25. Svasti says:

    Mr Thief,

    If you’ve changed the domain details (as clearly demonstrated with the Whois link provided by Deep) then ummm, who locked who out of the website??

    Your ‘fee’ is made up. Based on no concrete values. Did you ‘crunch the numbers’? Um, I doubt it!

    And, you only told Jim what it would cost once you changed the domain details and the password to access it. Funny that, isn’t it?

    If the project is worth nothing and there’s no revenue in it, how can you justify your random figure of $60K an additional $10K each month. Where did you pull that one from? A cereal box?

    Given you now are the only one with access to the domain, surely that means you owe both Jim and Emma money, not the other way around?

    And if you had a 30% share worth $60K (according to you)… how much does that mean you owe your other two ‘partners’ who no longer have access to the domain?

    As for your allegation that Jim has “stolen” the content… exactly how many articles have you written here? Umm… gee… must be at least… a tiny handful! Most of the content belongs to Jim and the other contributors.

    So… who did he “steal” the content from exactly? Oh wait, you said… the project… which you claim is jointly owned by the three of you (and not just you)?

    And that’s somehow “wrong”, compared to you deciding to change the domain ownership details to your own? Go ahead, explain that one!

    Seems you have acted as a thief, so cop it on the chin buddy.

    If you act like a terrorist, why should Jim deal with you rationally? I think he’s done the only thing he could to be honest.

    We’re not boycotting this site. But hey, feel free to do so yourself!
    .-= Svasti´s last blog ..Tiggers like to bounce =-.

  26. Fertile Fish says:

    Yawn……………………

  27. Jim says:

    I’ve just had an email notifying me that the main admin password has changed at http://www.gosmelltheflowers.com :

    Go! Smell the Flowers to me
    show details 12:52 PM (0 minutes ago) Reply
    Password Lost and Changed for user: admin

    I cannot access GO! Smell the flowers any longer.
    If it wasn’t for re-directing all the content I’d have lost 3 years work.

    Rehan – I’ve enough on my plate than running multiple avatars thanks although I can confirm FF is resident in Doo-bye….

  28. Svasti says:

    Good to know! Clearly there’s been some mischief going on here.

    To be honest, I’m not sure that either party is behaving completely honourably or honestly. But I do think RYK (the Thief) has clearly done the wrong thing and is now trying to change his story and cover his tracks.

    I think they should both give it up.

    Jim – this is a new site. Time to wipe the slate clean, and think about how you want to move forward. You no longer have any partners in your venture.

    And, this really isn’t the most positive start to it all, is it?

    BTW – not sure if you noticed but it seems The Thief has turned the GSTF domain back on and has posted there as you, claiming that its him that is ‘locked out’.

    Time to get real and move forward powerfully instead of letting this continue to fester.
    .-= Svasti´s last blog ..Tiggers like to bounce =-.

  29. Jim says:

    Dear all,

    I’ve just had an email notifying me that the main admin password has changed at http://www.gosmelltheflowers.com :

    Go! Smell the Flowers to me
    show details 12:52 PM (0 minutes ago) Reply
    Password Lost and Changed for user: admin

    I cannot access GO! Smell the flowers any longer.
    If it wasn’t for re-directing all the content I’d have lost 3 years work.

    So the flowers have died for me and I’ll go through the appropriate channels to proove I am the owner – i simply don’t have $60,000 to spare.

    Unless it was Zimbabwe dollars? The denomination was never specified.

    Time to get a coffee going!

  30. Jim says:

    Thanks for all your comments – light, professional, personal or otherwise. The point has been made and this is huge learning for me.

    As a result of private emails stemming from the post on GO! Smell the coffee I now know the appropriate channels to take my case to the appropriate regulatory bodies and will share them here.

    The post was intended to raise awareness of how important it is to protect your ideas, brand rights, intellectual copyright, domain names and such like and if it has acheived this then so be it.

    As the original registrant of http://www.gosmelltheflowers.com, I did not give express permission for Rehan / GoDaddy to change the Registrant Name from Jim Wheat to GO! India or change the country from England to Gibraltar rendering the WHO IS address as false.

    The GO! Daddy change department is helping me with my case as is:

    ICANN’s page on a dispute policy:

    http://www.icann.org/en/udrp/udrp.htm

    The National Arbitration Forum:

    http://domains.adrforum.com/ (list of their supplemental rules found here: http://domains.adrforum.com/main.aspx?itemID=631&hideBar=False&navID=237&news=26 )

    The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO):

    http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains (list of their supplemental rules found here: http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/rules/supplemental/index.html )

    Rules pertaining to all approved dispute providers:

    http://www.icann.org/en/udrp/udrp-policy-24oct99.htm

    In March 2006 I took out the trademark for the phrase ‘GO! Smell the flowers’ – the title of the book – plus the ISBN number.

    It is registered to my home address, along with the domain name. Proof of brand design, blog content and comments during the last 3 years are critical hence the content move from flowers to coffee.

    If this is enough for Rehan to return http://www.gosmelltheflowers.com to me then so be it. more importantly if it stops anyone else being a victim of similar cases then even better.

    Deep was no longer required at GSTF and as per Rehan’s instructions was welcome deal with me directly. Rehan donated his 30% equity back, in an email directly from him as he confirmed he was no longer interested in the project – unless, unless we got ‘10 times the traffic’.

    Time to move on.

    People have enough going on in their lives and this community has started with a wake up call, doing what is says on the label.

    I’ll register my case through the appropriate channels, learn from it and focus my energy and passion getting the coffee going and crack on – we’ve a community to run!

    With an excellent team of contributors, fresh blood about to be brought on board and no commercial pressure it’s time to wipe the slate clean and to crack on.

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