Prior vendor holding domain hostage. Need Web Development and SEO guidance

We are an IT company that's picked up a new client unhappy with their current vendor.  Nothing new there but unfortunately their previous vendor put their domain in there name and is wanting to sell it back to the company.  The company initially purchased the domain thru their IT vendor and had no reason to believe their IT vendor wasn't acting in good faith.  The domain is the clients full business name and therefor would not be of any value to anyone else.  They are basically holding it for ransom.  We have setup a similar domain name and rebuilt their website.

Now with all that said, down to my question.  What can be done to get some of the traffic and various search engine's "attention" from their old site to the new one when we don't have access to the old site?  With their old site being the full company name and the fact that its been around a while at a minimum it has some organic advantages.  OK Guru's what tips, tricks, anything?  

We also have some concerns as to what these guys may do with the previous domain.  Legal action is of course an option but that can get very expensive and the attorneys are the only one's guaranteed to win.  This other vendor really needs to be taught a lesson and I feel strongly that karma will see to that.

Could really use some guidance here beyond the obvious "they should have....."   Doesn't matter.  This is where we are today.
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Dan CraciunIT ConsultantCommented:
Don't know what the legislation is in your country, but in Europe if you can prove that the domain name is your registered trademark you can take ownership over it.

When new TLDs were approved, people bought stuff like cocacola.hu, bmw.ru, etc., with the intent to sell it back to the copyright owners for a profit. Did not work.

So talk with the registrar and see if you can get the domain directly from them.

HTH,
Dan
Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Lawyers are expensive, domain name disputes are very expensive.  It may be cheaper to just buy the domain name from the company.
Lucas BishopClick TrackerCommented:
I would start by evaluating if the client's account ($) is in good standing and what the discussions were in relation to the original domain acquisition and web site build/maintenance. If the company was contracted to build a website for your client, I would expect that all materials were expected to become property of your client. This includes the domain, the web site content, etc.  If it turns out the entire project was a verbal commitment and there is no documentation, all hope is not lost.

Ultimately, if you have a construction firm build an office building for you, you don't relinquish the title to the property to them, no matter how much of a 'handshake' deal it was, unless you are unable to pay for the finished product.

If your client is in good standing with their previous commitments, I'd consider authoring a very truthful/factual account of the situation. Do not write anything that is not 100% factual, as you don't want to get into a debate of liable. Then post this as a review on the IT companies Yelps, BBB, Google Reviews, Facebook, hosting forums, etc. Once they see that other people have a view into their shady business practice, they'll likely reverse course rather quickly.

In the meantime, work on everything you can to rank the new domain as well as you possibly can. Update all social media profiles with the new URL. Put out a press release or two with an appropriate link to the new URL, etc.

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btanExec ConsultantCommented:
it is almost close to cyber squatting in facilitating to outcome of holding domain in ransom. but to be explicit, it is that we need to be aware that you don't actually own the domain name as not the actual registered owner as shared.

-Ask those "registered" owner again to hand over the domain to be under your ownership. If they opposed again, you will need to look at the contract or invoice drawn up for the purchase and any relevant terms & conditions the supplier has in relation to the purchase of the domain names.

If you cannot find any suitable clause in any of the aforementioned,  you may need to look at legal action and at the very least look to source a new supplier then.

It is not straightforward answer, there are instances other attempted the below as well which you may consider
-Check the whois of the domain name to find out who the registrar is.
-If the registrar doesn't give you the access to move the domain, then you will be able to go to ICANN (the main registration body for .com domains) and get them to release the domains to your control.
-Suggest consider to send a letter by post, to the registered address for your host and give them timeline e.g. 7 days to release the domains to your control, If they don't do it in this timescale then escalate to ICANN but this will cost you for them to look into a dispute.
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