Nominet responds to .uk criticism


British registry Nominet has responded to criticism that its plans for introducing shorter .uk web addresses will require existing registrants to fight costly auctions to secure domains.

Speaking to TB&I at an event in London, senior legal counsel Nick Wenban-Smith said he recognised the concerns but believed auctions would be an equitable solution when more than one party has rights to a domain.

The registry wants to allow businesses to register second-level domains such as for the first time, rather than just those with suffixes such as Nominet wants the scheme to supplement, not replace, its existing offerings.

There have been some complaints about the plans, especially in a paper entitled Introduction of .uk—Don’t Do It! by Edwin Hayward, a domain industry specialist. One of his criticisms is that existing registrants will not automatically obtain theircorresponding domain under .uk, potentially leading to “expensive” auctions between two or more parties.

Wenban-Smith, who was in London with other Nominet representatives to promote the consultation period, said: “In our experience—for example when launching shorter .uk addresses last year—it is the fairest way to determine the outcome when two or more parties with legitimate conflicting rights have applied for the same domain.”

Hayward has said this comparison to the October 2011 auctions was misleading because there were “no existing registrants to consider during the auction”. The domains had been held back because of technical and policy reasons.

But Wenban-Smith said it was “unlikely that all trademarks will pass the criteria required to qualify for new domains in the sunrise, just as it is unlikely that all companies will want the identical domain in .uk that they hold in”.

He stressed that under the current proposals, Nominet will prioritise trademarks that are enforceable in the UK and “demonstrate appropriate prior usage”.

“Then those with the equivalent address within the existing .uk namespace, and then those with unregistered rights (for example, those who have the matching company name listed but no trademarks) would be eligible to apply.”

In his 26-page paper, Hayward also criticised the proposed “significantly increased” £20 wholesale price of .uk domains. The current registry fee for a one-year domain is £4.20.

At the event in London, Nominet director of operations Eleanor Bradley told TB&I that there was demand for new domains incorporating more stringent security features than existing sites. Adding these features, such as daily malware scanning, would increase costs, she said.

The consultation period is open until January 7, 2013.

This article was first published on 01 December 2012 in World IP Review

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