Attorney Steve® Domain Name Dispute Essentials - GoDaddy Auctions and "Buy it Now" legal issues. Was a contract formed?
If you list a domain for sale on a website such as GoDaddy auctions or Sedo marketplace, and there is a "Buy Now" option, do you have an enforceable agreement if the buyer clicks to purchase the domain, but later pulls out? The answer is not entirely clear, but here is a look at what I found on GoDaddy and SEDO.
GODADDY POLICY: Offer/Counter-Offer with Buy Now
The same as an Offer/Counter-offer auction, but with the additional option to secure the domain through Buy Now. In an Offer/Counter-offer with Buy Now listing, a sale concludes when the seller accepts an offer, the buyer accepts a counter-offer or the buyer accepts the Buy Now price.
There is no obligation to accept an offer by either the buyer or seller. Offers and counter-offers are binding for seven days, and will expire after that seven day period, unless accepted. Any offers or counter-offers accepted within seven days concludes the sale and must be completed. The highest offer doesn't necessarily mean that buyer has won the domain—the seller must first accept the offer to conclude the sale.
4.1.2. Binding Offers
If, during the course of an Open Bid Thread a User makes an offer, which if accepted would result in a binding purchase and sale agreement, or at any time a prospective Buyer makes an offer for a Buy Now listing below the Seller's stated price, then he/she is bound to this offer for 168 hours, which corresponds to seven days from the time when the offer was rendered, unless, when available as an option, a prospective Buyer has chosen a different duration of time at the time of submitting their offer, of which the Seller will be notified. (“Offer Period”). Likewise, if, during the course of an Auction, a User makes an offer, which if accepted would result in a binding purchase and sale agreement, above the original bid or Reserve Price then he/she is bound to this offer for the length of the Auction Period.
Due to the binding nature of offers to purchase or sell Domains, Users should review the Domain listing carefully and perform all necessary research on suitability for intended uses to avoid any misunderstanding before submitting a binding offer. Once an offer is submitted a User is responsible for all resulting obligations to purchase or sell a Domain once a binding offer has been accepted. The Buyer's offer shall lapse if the other User rejects the offer, accepts another User's offer, submits a counter-offer, or the binding time period is allowed to lapse. A belated acceptance of the offer or a counter-offer shall be considered to be a new offer.
4.2.1. Buy Now and Make Offer Listings
Sellers may submit a 'Buy Now' Domain listing by submitting or updating their Domain listing in their Account to include a fixed price that serves as an open-ended offer to Buyers on the Domain Marketplace to sell the Domain at the indicated price without negotiation. This offer to sell the Domain at the indicated price shall remain binding until Seller updates the respective Domain listing in their Sedo Account with a different fixed price offer, or an alternative listing type, and this update has been reflected on the Domain Marketplace. Seller's Domain prices indicated in Buy Now listings are considered to be the end price for the Buyer, including any applicable taxes. When available, Buyers on the Domain Marketplace may still submit an offer to the Seller below the binding Buy Now price indicated by Seller, which Seller can either ignore, accept or respond to by adjusting their Buy Now price expectations.
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