NEW YORK – Brian Busch, the owner of a used car dealership in South Dakota — and lifelong fan of the NFL’s Rams — owns the losangelesrams.com domain name.
Busch, who has owned the domain since 1997, told me Wednesday he’d be willing to sell the name to the NFL and St. Louis (soon to be Los Angeles) Rams. He hasn’t heard from the league or team yet, however. He also didn’t have a price in mind.
But the owner of another domain that the Rams might want — Rams.com — said he’s already talked to the team a few months ago.
“$650,000 is the minimum asking price,” said Adam Dicker, owner of the Web design company Digital Asset Management in Toronto.
Dicker reached out to me via Twitter on Thursday after reading my story about Busch — which mentioned Rams.com.
I tried contacting the listed registrant for Rams.com on Wednesday. But according to the ICANN domain name registry, Rams.com was registered to a business with an address in England and phone number in Germany.
Nobody answered when I rang that number. Dicker explained that this was because he registered for the domain name privately, something you can do by paying a little extra.
Why did he want to remain anonymous?
“I get a lot of stupid inquires from people who want to buy domains for $500 or $1,000. So sometimes it’s easier to remain private,” he said.
That changed now that Rams.com could be a valuable commodity. Dicker changed the registration on ICANN Thursday to show his name, Toronto address and phone number as the registrant.
Dicker first registered the Rams.com site in 1995. It has nothing to do with football — even though Dicker says he’s a Dallas Cowboys fan. (Canada’s team as well as America’s team? That makes this New York Giants fan feel nauseous.)
Dicker’s site is a place where people can go to find out facts about the mammals with the big curly horns.
“I’m big into animals. I watch a lot of Animal Planet,” Dicker said. He owns some other animal-themed sites as well, such as giraffes.com.
But Dicker is not just a fan of animals. He’s also an expert in domain name sales.
Dicker used to be a senior vice president with domain seller GoDaddy. He left in 2010 and was embroiled in a bit of a scandal at the company before that.
In 2008, he was accused of bidding against GoDaddy customers in auctions for expired domain names.
At the time, GoDaddy said that Dicker was not doing anything illegal. But the company wound up banning employees from future auctions in order to avoid conflicts of interest.
Dicker said he left GoDaddy on amicable terms. GoDaddy was not immediately available for comment to verify this.
But Dicker has remained a controversial figure in the domain name world. There are several industry blogs that have stories about employees and business partners accusing Dicker of deception and claiming that he owes them money.
“There is no credibility to these allegations,” Dicker said, adding that he has hired a lawyer to try and get some of the blog posts removed.
Still, it does make you wonder if the NFL’s Rams would want to negotiate with him given all these stories.
After all, Dicker’s had the site for two decades and the NFL has yet to purchase it. The league has gotten along just fine with www.stlouisrams.com as the official team site.
Plus, Dicker seems content to keep the site up as a tribute to the male sheep.
“I’m in no hurry,” Dicker said, adding that he last had contact with members of the Rams organization a few months ago. “If I sell it, I sell it.”
The NFL did not return calls for comment.
So maybe the football team will wind up reaching out to Busch for losangelesrams.com. He told me his original plan in 1997 was to make it a tribute to the old LA Rams. But he never set up a site. The domain is currently parked on, ironically enough, GoDaddy.
But there could be a problem for Busch. “Los Angeles Rams” is still a trademark of the St. Louis Rams, according to a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Dicker said that if the Rams and the NFL wanted to play hardball, they could technically file what’s known as a Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (URDP) complaint to try and gain control of the name from Busch.
But that would probably be a dumb idea. The Rams organization is already being demonized by some for abandoning St. Louis.
Would the team want to look even more like a villain by suing a fan of the team who has owned the domain since 1997 and never made any money from it?
By Paul R. La Monica