The registrant is the owner of the domain.  That means if an employee, hosting company, or one member of a partnership has their name in there then they are the domain owner.  There have been many disputes and lawsuits because the domain owner was not properly identified when the domain was registered.

Whois “privacy” services:  The so-called “whois privacy” or proxy services offered by many domain registration providers cost a couple dollars per year.  There is no official whois proxy policy for domain names so when you use this service you are essentially transferring ownership to the domain registrar because they are now the legal owner.  While these proxy services have been recognized in some legal proceedings there is no guarantee.  Most registrars will simply turn off whois privacy if there is a legal dispute because they will not spend thousands in legal fees for a customer paying $2/year for a privacy service.  If privacy in the whois records is required you should set this up yourself and not depend on a $2/year service.  (Note that just using a PO Box is not sufficient in the USA.  The information can be obtained from the post office using the Freedom of Information Act).   See Theodore Presser Company v. John Smith/Whois Protection | Letter from Intellectual Property Consituency (IPC) to ICANN concerning whois privacy | NameCheap sued over WhoisGuard | Moniker sued for child porn because of whois privacy

ICANN CEO found using fake whois data

The registrant name and address is used for all types scams.  These include:

-Sending false or misleading “renewal” notices or “search engine optimization” subscriptions is common.  (See 2003 case: Court Bars Canadian Company from Misleading Consumers in Marketing of Internet Domain Name Services)

-Sending trademark “warnings” that similar domains may be registered unless you pay them to get it first.

-Extortion attempts claim defamatory information will be posted about you on the Internet so it will appear in search engines … unless you pay up.

-Extortion threats related to defacing web sites or stealing personal data of your customers.

-Frivolous trademark claims.