back to article MySpace wins UK domain name that pre-dated its service

Social networking company MySpace has won the right to have the domain name transferred to it despite the fact that it was registered six years before MySpace was founded. The fact that the address led to a 'parked' page with adverts for social networking sites including MySpace was taken to be …


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  1. caffeine addict

    Radical idea...

    Why don't we just get rid of all the top and second level domains. No more dotcoms or dotuks or anything else, just a dot-edu and a dot-clusterf##k.

    No-one uses the international identifiers properly and each new tld just produces a land grab that makes some company vast sums of money. This way when a new company turns up they either get the domain they want or they shut the fuck up.

  2. Lupus
    Thumb Down


    Please tell me I'm not the only one who disagrees with this ruling?

  3. Mark
    Thumb Down

    Well thats the registration platform down the pan

    Is there any point in registering domains anymore? If a large company wants one of my domains, and I happen to have advertising on it, I lose it?

    Absolutely astounding.

  4. Cameron Colley

    They were here first, even though they weren't?

    What a load of bollocks. I wonder whether Murdoc will be grateful to the court at all?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Another one bites the dust..

    Yes, typical behaviour for Nominet.

    The domain goes to the party with the most influence and money. there are no "rights."

    If you don't like it get a dot com.

  6. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    Looks a little screwy to me...

    This is ridiculous. So what they are saying is that if I have a domain name that is used and which has externally served adverts on then if someone down the line founds a company that uses something similar to my domain name they can get the domain off me if the adverts on the site possibly make people confused.

    As far as I am concerned if my registration pre-dates the company that is complaining about my use of the page then they have no rights what-so-ever to get it off me.

    Paris since even she wouldn't try something like this.

  7. Martyn Waddington

    Internet Startup

    Right, that's it. I am setting up a company called theregister and in a few years I'll take this domain name as it has some advertising on it and it may one day accidently advertise my site!

  8. Shane Bryan

    My Space

    Apparently not your space any more mate.

  9. James Bassett

    Abusive advert, not site registration

    The site registration CANNOT have been abusive as it was made many years before MySpace came into existence. MySpace probably has an argument that TWS is now taking the piss by earning advertising revenue out of the confusion but that's just abusive advertising. The domain should still belong to TWS who can do whatever the hell they like with it as long as it isn't related to MySpace's business.

    Translate this to the real world.

    I have a plot of land. I use that plot of land to display billboards. If I display a billboard advertising MySpace, they have every right to tell me to take that billboard down.

    They don't get to take the freaking plot of land off me!

  10. b166er


    should have claimed that was infringing its IP

  11. Chris C

    3 easy steps

    1. Choose a generic name for your "social networking" website (example: "My Space", what a radically innovative name).

    2. Force all owners of similar generic-name sites to hand their domains over to you.

    3. Profit!

    This ruling sets a very dangerous precedent when a domain, registered long before the "popular" domain is even thought of, can be forcibly handed over to the "popular" site's owner. Even if there was advertising for on the website, nobody could possibly confuse the two of them. What was Rupert worried about -- that people might get to the "wrong" site and think MySpace is more intelligent than it really is?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So by their logic...

    Because Gmail advertises spam products and recipes in its spam folder view, Hormel Foods Corporation can claim ownership of ""? I'm sure we could easily come up with a thousand other examples.

    Someone should have asked "Please could you give me the names of the people who were confused?". Otherwise this is just Fantasy Trademark Dispute.

  13. Ben Mathews

    Actually... I think I agree with this...

    Form what I understand, (and I can't check as the site isn't responding atm) the domain wasn't being used for anything *other* than advertising.

    If the TWS had been using it for an actual site or service which happened to have some adds on, I'd be frothing at the mouth but if it was purely a page of ads, designed to profit from typos or people not realising the wasn't the UK version of the .com site I'm all in favour. The less domains out there which are just used for ads the better.

  14. Frederick Lagunawiczia


    I can't actually believe this article !

    Is Nominet this pathetic ?

    I don't see why I should register another .uk domain again

    Very angry at this decision if the facts here are as they appear to be.

  15. Sean Baggaley

    Seems to me...

    ...that a better solution would have been to require to remove any and all adverts for It sounds like Nominet are trying to shoehorn the "Passing Off" laws into their domain arbitration process. If TWS were relying on the confusion to make money, they'd be far more likely to sell it.

    If not, it'd be tough for Murdoch's bunch, but they wouldn't have a leg to stand on and TWS' case would be proven.

    (That said, I'm of the opinion that the Internet in general is fundamentally borked anyway, so... meh.)

  16. Chris
    Dead Vulture

    Take a dump or get off the can

    They were squatters and they got what they deserved: They were just holding out for to pay out.

    If they wanted to make a commercial service (this is then they had 10 years to achieve it - and only 18 customers in the end. That's a commercial failure

    Hopefully this will force a few more "web service" companies go belly-up as a result of this deflation of their market. springs to mind...

    I think domain registrations should be less like Copyright and more like Patents - with a sliding payment scale according to how long you've held them.

  17. Cameron Colley

    Correction: They were here first, even though they weren't?

    For court read Nominet.

    That'll teach me for posting when my boss is around.

  18. Edward Phillips
    Thumb Up

    Abuse through use

    With Nominet's DRS there are two tests - is it abusive when it was registered (no), is it abusive today, now that life has moved on (in this case the expert said yes).

    Just because he registered the name ages ago doesn't mean that once it (by accident or design) later becomes famous for something else, he can jump on that bandwagon and take advantage of that fame. If he had started a genuine business at the time and was still doing it, the DRS says "fine". But he wasn't - he changed to take advantage of the later company's subsequent reputation and that's what the DRS doesn't allow.

  19. krakead
    Thumb Down

    @Ben Matthews

    Just because the website is only being used to display adverts doesn't mean there aren't other services attached to the domain.

    Unfortunately, for most people these days, domain == website - little or no consideration is given to anything else. The article says there are still 18 people using email services on the domain - what about their rights?

  20. Chad H.

    I think you're all missing the point...

    the domain appears to be stripped because they weren't actively using it... To go with the register example, if you registered a similar domain, and then (heaven forbid) el reg shut up shop, and just put up one of those pages domain stealer use (what you need when you need it), and kept renewing the domain, then you'd have a claim, if the domain was used for a more active use (say, domain registrations), then you wouldnt.

    Its just like patient trolls really.

  21. Anonymous Coward


    There are enough stupid domains out there pointing to advertising pages. anyone?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Ben Mathews

    The site had a use and a function years before myspace existed, it didn't just serve ads! This means that the domain wasn't registered with abusive intent. If they registered with the intention of luring people who typo .com wrong, that's abusive intent. All that happened here was they ran out of use for and decided to just sling some ads on there. If you had no use for a domain you had, would you just leave it as a blank page?

  23. Anonymous Coward

    @Chris and Ben Mathews

    "They were squatters "

    What a bunch of nonsense. How can you be a squatter YEARS BEFORE MYSPACE EVEN EXISTED? Have you never head of these little things called "past", "present" and "future"? Do you really think that an event occurring later in time can be the cause of something earlier in time?

    "If they wanted to make a commercial service (this is then they had 10 years to achieve it - and only 18 customers in the end. That's a commercial failure"

    So what? Just because a business is unsuccessful doesn't mean that someone can come along and steal its assets. Property rights don't just vanish into thin air. What is it with brown-nosers like you who believe that the rich and famous should be above the law and allowed to treat ordinary folks and our property as if we and it all belonged to them?

    "Form what I understand, (and I can't check as the site isn't responding atm) the domain wasn't being used for anything *other* than advertising."

    In that case you don't understand much, and you don't need to check the site, you just needed to have been paying the slightest bit of attention to the article you are commenting on. Read the article again; it explains how the original myspace had been used for personal homepage hosting. It was a genuine business, and just because it's slowly fading away doesn't make it a fraudulent site used only for advertising because NOTHING THAT HAPPENS NOW CAN REACH BACK IN TIME AND CHANGE THE NATURE OF SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED YEARS EARLIER.

    There is no resemblance whatsoever between this site, bought in good faith many years before myspace even existed and genuinely used for a real webhosting business, and a site created by someone *after* a brand becomes well-known and never used in any business, and if you can't see how different that is, you're just plain blind.

  24. Shaun

    RE: Actually... I think I agree with this...

    It was being used for emails

  25. Stuart

    RE: Actually... I think I agree with this...

    I certainly don't. The website was merely serving ads on it's front page - no problem there surely? if so, every website serving a MySpace advert better watch out.

    The closeness of the domain names really is irrelevant. TWS were providing a service using a domain name which has NOTHING to do with or their army of lawyers AND predates it by the 6 years reported in the article.

    And, of course, they are still providing part of the original service on that domain - namely the 18 email clients. So what if it isn't making heaps of money? Is profitability a pre requisite for keeping hold of your legally registered domains now?

    A domain is, after all, more than just a web page...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Nominet = Scam

    It's a simple system - I know cause i've been screwed by them too

    Party A complains that Party B is using a domain name Party A wants.

    Party A pays Nominet approx. £700 to 'investigate' with an 'expert'.

    Nominet then gives the name to Party A.

    Party B then has to pay £3000 to appeal if they want the name back.

    Either way Nominet cash in. They don't care about the rights of anybody, it's all a scam to make money. Whoever pays them the most gets the name - simple.

  27. Steve Roper


    can buy anything. Anything at all. Justice? What's that? The ability to buy anything you want? This just shows how the corporations own your arse.

  28. Adam White

    RE: Actually... I think I agree with this...

    Whether the site hosted ads or high grade original content or kiddie porn should be totally irrelevant to a domain name registration dispute IMHO.

  29. Kevin Fields
    Thumb Down

    Easily reversed

    WIPO or any court with a lick of brains will easily reverse this. Apparently Rupert Murdoch is out to blow his money.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    RE - Nominet = Scam

    I sympathise.

    I was involved in trying to get a domain name that would be appropriate for the company that I work for; we had the same "expert" to decide on the merits of the case as in the myspace case. The company that paid for the domain no longer exists as they went into liquidation; the site is parked, but it was not deemed to be "abusive" so our claim was rejected but still cost 700 squid. We then had several emails inviting us to take it to the next stage and pay £3,000 for the privilege.

    We are going to wait for the registration to fall due again (fairly soon) and see if we can get it that way

    The pirate icon - well what do you think?

  31. Dr Patrick J R Harkin
    Paris Hilton

    Hang on here...

    Can't the owners of claim that was an abusive registration designed to be confused with their domain? Though I must admit that if I was the owner of I'd take the money and run. isn't going to be around forever and when they're gone you can have back again for peanuts.

    Why the Paris icon for a MySpace posting? Well ones a superfically attractive, vapid, essentially functionless service used and abused by millions, and the other's MySpace...

  32. Mark
    Thumb Down


    > I think domain registrations should be less like Copyright and more like Patents - with a sliding payment scale according to how long you've held them.

    That's a great idea so the BBC can lose the rights to because they would have to pay huge sums of money to keep it after 10 years.

    Scammers/squatters wouldn't get hit because they would just register the domain under a different name once the ramp-up in fees started.

    I also think that even if the domain is registered abusively then the result shouldn't just be hand it over but perhaps hand it over with compensation or require some sort of link to the site that the person might have been looking for. Take the example of which had a link to for a while before the BBC bought the domain off Boston Business Computing.

    I personally see nothing wrong with domain name squatting, if you weren't intelligent enough to register the variants of your domain name then power to those who did. Its not like those who went to and saw an advertising page wouldn't realise that this wasn't the myspace they were looking for!!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @I think you're all missing the point...

    as are you.

    "the domain appears to be stripped because they weren't actively using it"

    I have a number of domains that aren't actively used for displaying web pages however, as in this case, their primary use is as mail servers and are actively used for this purpose.

    Whether they had 18 clients or 18,000 is irrelevant, it's not for anyone to determine if the business was successful or not.

    Maybe nominet should learn the the difference between internet and www.

  34. sack

    I don't see the problem here

    I really don't see what the anger is about here.

    It was just a holding page on a now unused domain. If it was the original users site doing whatever the original user chose to do within reason then there would be plenty of room for outrage but that isn't the case.

    It's just some registry company holding on to a now unused domain in order to make some easy money and it just makes a mockery of the registration system and hinders peoples ability to simply go forth and register an unused domain. It annoys the hell out of me the way these generic links pages are supposed to demonstrate use of a domain and 'I'm not squatting, honest guv!'.

    I get the feeling that an unpopular target won this round and that's all most of this argument is really.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about trademarks...?

    In trademark law, it is normal for the lawful holder of a trademark to lose their ownership if they fail to use the trademark and defend it against unlawful use by others. It's not enough to have got there first - you have to be making active use of your property in a legitimate manner.

    If all the site did was host banners, I think it's perfectly reasonable that the domain could be taken away. If they'd been hosting a minimal amount of real content without advertising banners, the case would have gone the other way.

  36. Mark
    Dead Vulture

    @ What about trademarks...?

    So the fact that 18 people were using the domain for email services is not therefore active and legitimate use?

  37. John Browne validated his claim.

    It TWS are responsible for the advertising they show then Myspace are similarly responsible for the advertising they put out on the web.

    If allowed themselves and paid TWS (through adsence or similar) to be advertised on then they validated his claim to the domain.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nominet = Scam

    Have to agree.

    Previously you could look at the internet as more of a level playing field where small organisations could have as much right to an internet presence as a larger one. As this domain was register ed before hand (and was being used for email), it is being removed from the owner just because it was less successful than another similar name which should be a worrying for all companies.

    If the adverts were a problem a requirement could have been that these were removed rather than taking the domain itself.

    It seems that in addition to the decisions Nominet (or rather their arbitrators) are making in favour of the larger/more successful party) the system of fees looks like it is designed so that only larger companies can afford to risk it.

    I have not doubt that at some point they will do this to someone that has the guts to take it to the high court and it would be interesting to see what happens not just for the domain in question but also for previous decisions as this would then set a legal rather than an arbitration precedent.

    We have been TAG holders since 1996 and used to look at Nominet as one of the most moral and respected registrars around. This along with the organisation changes they tried (unsuccessfully) to slip mast the members now means that our opinion of them is no longer as favourable.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    what about trademarks!!! who gives a ***k

    It's was a domain not a trademark, I like the land analagy best. They might have pushed their luck with adverts, but that didn't give somebody the right to take away the domain. I am of course exercising my POV and common sense. I cannot believe this ruling.

    Nominet - in some ways you are a good public utility with no accountability, in this case - I think you SUCK.

  40. Simon Greenwood
    Unhappy has previous history

    It used to be one of those online storage services - have a look on Nominet's actions here are nothing new. It's not the first time and it won't be the last that the money speaks louder.

  41. dek

    "profiting unfairly"

    huh? I'd like them to apply that one across the board.

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