Selling a website – some legal notes

Provided you own a website you can normally sell it to another party. The ownership is officially registered with the bodies who manage the domain type; e.g. Nominet for United Kingdom extensions like co.uk and a short due diligence check will establish the title to the domain name.

Ownership of a website can however go beyond the registered entity or individual who appears in the register. Under some jurisdictions another view may be taken about ownership. The website content may have been designed, written by and maintained by a third party or parties and they may have a view on the ownership of the site content. A web authoring or design contract with the designer and writer may exist to remove any claim from a subsequent sale, but a buyer will want to ensure that there is no intellectual property claim in the wings after the sale.

Value

A site can change hands at a few hundred or several hundred thousand pounds. If your site falls into a higher value category it may need an independent valuation. Normally the price is set by either bids or at a price agreed or negotiated between willing buyer and willing seller.

The contract for sale is prepared in the same way as for any sale of goods and the site will be either conveyed to the buyer unencumbered by indemnities or with clauses to indemnify against possible claims e.g. intellectual property claims. Such issues can be insurable if the risk is not known.

Internet Assets Ltd is a facilitator or broker in the transaction and as such may take a commission on the sale from the seller or a finders fee from the buyer. The fee is negotiated at the outset but is normally a small percentage plus any marketing expenses that have been agreed.

Internet Assets Ltd may also be the owner of the site. We may have built the site for the purpose of resale. In this case our interest will be made clear early in the process so the buyer is clear about the parties in the transaction.

A buyer should ensure that the site is transferred with full history. Sites that have been dormant while in ownership or where the site has been reactivated following a period where the domain had to be recovered by the registrar (through non-payment of registration fees for example) must be checked to ensure that the history is intact. History brings faster indexing and higher Page Rank.

I have a site for sale, what do I do next?

Let us have a look at the website you wish to sell and give you an evaluation. It won’t be a formal due diligence but it will be enough to establish some basic facts. After that we can suggest a marketing plan and take the sale forward. We will offer services similar to those you would expect from an estate agency. We will manage the sale and marketing and put you in touch with other professionals where their input is required whether it be a solicitor, valuer, tax consultant or consultant. Contact us now.