back to article UK's internet registry prepares a £100m windfall for its board members – and everyone else will pay for it

Nominet, the operator of the dot-UK domain-name registry, has been accused of designing a scheme to give its largest members a £100m payday. On July 8 this year, more than three million unregistered .uk domains – including household brands from Mars.uk, Heinz.uk, and Maltesers.uk to Colgate.uk and Lipton.uk – will be released …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fat piggies with snouts in the trough.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      nomnomnominet.

      1. Shadow Systems

        At TRT...

        *Hands you a pint & slaps you on the back*

        You bastard! XD Hahahahahahahahha...

  2. Chris Hills

    Please find out

    Who can we complain to about this? Is there an independent body?

    1. Andrew Norton

      Re: Please find out

      I wish.

      Back in 2013, I got messed around with by them over their privacy policies, or lack thereof. They'd arbitrarilly decide sites were commercial, and remove privacy protections, supposedly 'for the good of the visitor', because if I have a 'subscribe for emails when there's new posts', or links to my book for sale on amazon, they really need my home address, especially one that's been run through a bunch of databases to 'verify' it. Oh yeah, because they needed to verify things, because a legally recognized uk pseudonym (done to actually uniquely identify me, rather than hide me, and under which I do a lot of my business) was not acceptable.

      I didn't find anyone to appeal to, but after making enough noise that the Guardian got involved, and Jimmy Wales started smacking them around a bit on Twitter, they relented that they'd hide my home details. Alas it'd been public for a day before I could change the address to a PO Box, because their system wouldn't let me change it before the deadline - even sent their director a video showing that) but I was forced to move, because i've been the target of SWATing before, from the likes of Jeremy Hammond (who is still in prison for another year or two) and others, so yeah, I don't want my home address out there. ICO didn't give a toss then. Luckily, GDPR has helped push it to where ti should have been.

      but no, no-one to complain to.

      1. Peter X

        Re: Please find out

        I'm pretty sure they decided if a site was commercial or not *entirely* at random. I didn't try super-hard, but I could see no obvious way to do anything about it.

    2. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: Please find out

      Shurely Nominet are regulated by Ofcom ??

      Past that, Competition and Markets Authority, as they have a built in Monopoly ???

  3. Blockchain commentard

    Mars takes the registrar to court, wins, opens floodgates. Only the lawyers benefit in the end.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      so...

      ...we should let corrupt fat cats fuck everything up?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: so...

        Sabroni, ideally we shouldn't - but in practice you will find there is very little anyone can actually do about it.

        The main reason why Western cheeses talk so much about corruption in other countries is that, in our countries, corruption has been legalized and institutionalized.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: so...

          Hmm interesting, could you patronise that up a bit more for me please?

          Thanks so much!

      2. teamonster

        Re: so...

        I think at this point, after net-neutrality and many other fat-cat atrocities, we will be asked, "Why stop now?"

      3. DontFeedTheTrolls
        Headmaster

        Re: so...

        Let them?

        45% of the UK actually voted for them and we're now in this Brexit shitstorm

  4. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Fundamentally this smacks of collusion and active, deliberate distortion of the market in a monopolistic way which is completely illegal under UK and EU law ... Be interesting to see what happens next ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've got a feeling it won't actually be that interesting as more than likely nothing will happen and it will carry on, business as usual.

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Yep. If they were able to push out a high level member out who was looking for reform then difficult for others to challenge. But shouldn't stop people, its just finding the money to fight them.

        1. 's water music
          Trollface

          tackling corruption

          If only there were a suitable exemplar of best practice that other similar organisations like Nominet could learn from. Perhaps the European Patent Office might know a song about that. If they hum the tune I'm sure Nominet could join in

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      And in spirit, it is. Legally, however, it's an organization that has been given a supported monopoly because that's pretty much the only way to run a registry that has decided on the system, not the market leaders. Their decision just happens to look like one that was set up by collusion. So an investigation into the registrars would likely come to the conclusion that they're fine, and an investigation into the registry would say that they have the right to set policies such that they get a bunch of money and then pay that money to themselves. There really should be some method for calling their motives into question or removing them entirely, but I don't think there is. Unless there's a class of law I don't know about that says "Institutions must not abuse their market position", they'll probably get off in that valley between letter and spirit of the law.

  5. dbgi

    How predictable

    How predictable. When the reg first reported Nominet's change in business, we all said in the comments something like this would happen.

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    A US export

    It looks as though the 'Pai Effect'™ has reached British shores.

    1. teamonster

      Re: A US export

      I remember some commenters asking why we should be concerned, as it was happening in America, not here. As we pointed out at the time, once the British executive muggers realise what can be got away with in Yank-land, they will try it here.

      1. Bronek Kozicki

        Re: A US export

        It's called "regulatory capture" and is not a new phenomenon. Lives lost to Boeing 737 MAX disaster are stark example of what this can lead to.

  7. Ben Tasker Silver badge

    I was gifted a .uk

    My registrar "gifted" me bentasker.uk for a year (or perhaps it was 2) when they first launched, because I've got bentasker.co.uk.

    Looking in the control panel now it's £8 a year to renew. Which isn't a lot of money, but it is money that shouldn't need to be spent on a domain that might come in conflict with my "proper" domain and only exists because Nominet are a bunch of self-interested money grubbing $#!?'s that seem determined to replicate the worst aspects of ICAAN.

    .co.uk hit the 10 million milestone back in 2012, so if you assume about 1/4 of those were "gifted" the .uk and now auto-renew at £8/year that's an additional £20 million quid being paid out, every year, for no good reason.

    Just like ICAAN with the gTLD's, the entire offering depends on fear of the new domain coming into conflict with the established one. And, to be honest, it's no real surprise seeing such a low approach coming out of Nominet - remember they were also the ones who turned off people's WHOIS privacy without advance notice based on a very spurious assessment that those sites were commercial, simply because they were carrying ads.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: I was gifted a .uk

      It is interesting to ask the question: did 123-reg see this coming two plus years back?

      Because clearly if you are a user of 123-reg you have been saved from Nominet(UK)'s scheme.

      With my clients it has enabled me to hold gentle discussions about domain names so that this year they can take an informed decision as to whether to actively surrender the .uk domain or keep it (for now) and pay the bill.

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: I was gifted a .uk

        So, 123-Reg did it too?

        My registrar in this case is Heart Internet - thought that's basically the same company as 123 Reg, in the sense that they were both part of HEG, and are now both owned by GoDaddy.

        I wonder if all the various GoDaddy ofshoots gave their customers the same "offer"?

  8. STOP_FORTH

    gettof.uk nominet

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      get tof?

      1. STOP_FORTH

        I think the upvotes were from Glaswegians.

        Would gettaef.uk nominet be better?

        1. 's water music

          .scot shirley? Although that fucks up the joke on several different levels

          1. STOP_FORTH
            Unhappy

            We may need a whole bunch of new TLDs for pieces of the former UK soon.

            1. 's water music

              forner uk

              perhaps a second level domain registry (nothing could go wrong with that approach after all)

              scot.fuk

              niron.fuk

              cym.fuk

              yorks.fuk

              london.fuk

              ...

              cont. p94

  9. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    promises the board will respond to those members that have complained

    Hmm... let's guess what the response will be...

    Downvote for: Goodness, we're terribly sorry about this dreadful oversight and will immediately remedy the imbalance.

    Upvote for: Back in your cage, gimps!

  10. Dale 3

    Nice bit of racketeering going on there

    Generate a bunch of new .uk names for all the existing .co.uk names... be a shame if someone else got hold of it, right guv?

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "avoid gaming of the system"

    To me, it seems that the entire system was specifically created to be gamed - but only by those in charge.

    Isn't it time that Nominet's status as a non-profit be put into question ? If you have a non-profit that hires an acquisition officer, then I think that non-profit has too much money for its own good.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "avoid gaming of the system"

      A not-for-profit is a great business model. No shareholders and all excess money has to be 'absorbed' by executive salaries, posh headquarters and fancy new toys.

      It could, obviously, be used to lower customer prices, but that is quite a dangerous precedent and only done once the above profit eaters have been exhausted to the point of literal embarrassment. Even then you can just appoint a new chairman who feels less easily embarrassed.

    2. MonkeyCee

      Re: "avoid gaming of the system"

      "Isn't it time that Nominet's status as a non-profit be put into question "

      Not for profit simply means doesn't pay dividends, and doesn't intend to run a profit.

      If it where an actual "good cause" it would be a charity, be tax exempt and have a lot more regulation.

      And yes, it is suitable as a self-enriching parasite, run by the types of people who thrive in that environment. Things like dumping the charitable foundation point towards nominet moving towards the darkside.

  12. ch0rlt0n

    Hey www.theregister.co.uk

    Nice domain name you got there. Be a shame if somethin' happened to it...

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Hey www.theregister.co.uk

      Interestingly Elreg.uk can be had fot 99p for the first year.

      Strangely enough I was involved with registering a vulture logo a few years back for a new clothing brand that never got off the ground.

      1. STOP_FORTH

        Re: Hey www.theregister.co.uk

        Try using lighter material.

  13. hammarbtyp

    fc.uk Nominet

    1. DontFeedTheTrolls
      Pirate

      One would expect that particular brand owner has already been fleeced given the opportunity to have their optimal address

  14. Franco Silver badge

    "The key challenge for Nominet is to ensure the integrity and resilience of our registration systems, both for these names and for names registered in the normal course of business."

    As the BOFH might say, eau de rat is in the air. Nominet are essentially allowing cybersquatting for profit, so long as their hand picked squatters get the domain names and then promptly sell them for a profit to the companies that should already technically own them, and seeing as domain name registrars have a monopoly over their namespace it's not like you can go elsewhere.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flat design was a bad idea

    Nominet should never have introduced the new flat namespace in the first place, it really was nothing more than a way for them to print money.

    I always thought that the .uk’s hierarchical namespace was a *good* thing, and something which many other ccTLDs sadly lack: it prevents impersonation of .gov.uk, .ac.uk, nhs.uk domains, for example, as well as allowing the likes of Bloggs Business and Bloggs Charity to not to have to fight for the same domain name.

    1. VinceH

      Re: Flat design was a bad idea

      "Nominet should never have introduced the new flat namespace in the first place, it really was nothing more than a way for them to print money."

      Yes... My guess is that while the introduction of .uk was a way for them to print money, not enough of it was printed because not enough owners of existing .uk domains took up the flat equivalent. It didn't work well enough in the money printing aim, so now they're doing this.

      Also, wasn't there a problem quite a long time back with at least one registrar whereby if someone checked for the existence of a domain, they'd go ahead and register it - so the person searching could then not do so anywhere else? This is surely making that an option again.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Flat design was a bad idea

        In my mind, a country should either do a purely third-level domain structure or a purely second level. Mixing them is asking for trouble. The main reasons for choosing to do only second level domains are to attract international purchases (for example, randomstartup.co.io wouldn't catch on as well as randomstartup.io) and to simplify the categorization of sites (for example, whether a personal site gets placed in .me.uk or .org.uk or .co.uk, all of which I've seen). The third level doesn't give those benefits, but clearly classifies the sites. Doing both results in a patchwork mess where domain impersonation is made far too easy.

      2. Mike 16 Silver badge

        Front-running registrars

        ... wasn't there a problem quite a long time back with at least one registrar whereby if someone checked for the existence of a domain, they'd go ahead and register it - so the person searching could then not do so anywhere else? ...

        Yes, I do recall that, although I don't recall whether it was GoDaddy or NetSol.

        Definitely a thing, though.

  16. Colonel Mad

    .uk

    Thanks for the heads up, what a shower!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: .uk

      "what a shower!"

      Well, it is the UK after all. Wet bank holidays :-)

  17. RichUK

    There needs to be a public enquiry

    This is disgraceful. There needs to be a public enquiry on this.

  18. Keith Langmead

    Unaware or just refusing to be robbed

    "On July 8 this year, more than three million unregistered .uk domains – including household brands from Mars.uk, Heinz.uk, and Maltesers.uk to Colgate.uk and Lipton.uk – will be released to the general public to purchase."

    It'd be interesting to know whether those big companies like Mars, Kraft, Colgate and Unilever haven't bothered registering their .uk domains because they're unaware, or simply because they have faith in their legal departments and refuse to be robbed (again, think .biz, .info, .eu etc). Presumably anyone deciding to register heinz.uk better have a damn good reason to have it, and woe betide them if they do anything with it that could even be suggested to be passing off on Heinz's brand otherwise they'll end up in court.

  19. Crisp
    Coat

    Smells like... Corruption Stew

    See Final Space.

  20. bed

    Post Brexit...

    Post Brexit and Scotland then Northern Ireland leave what is currently the UK, the UK will cease to exist. Perhaps someone needs to start a Former UK TLD, the acronym would be most appropriate.

    1. Fonant
      Unhappy

      Re: Post Brexit...

      .en is available for England...

    2. DontFeedTheTrolls
      Coat

      Re: Post Brexit...

      .scot already exists

      Presumably Northern Ireland will just switch to .ie

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Post Brexit...

        "Presumably Northern Ireland will just switch to .ie"

        Even if NI broke away from the UKofGB&NI, joining in with Ireland is whole other kettle of Guiness.

  21. Drew 11

    ICANN was captured by the registry/registrar lobby, and then it sat back while they grabbed all their clients expiring names for themselves and then auctioned them off (instead of the proper action of beling deleted and returning to the unregged pool).

    Nominet = 2nd verse, same as the first.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OFC there are always options

    Offical DNS structure gets raped but then again you can always make your own, DNS is just a database of names and IP address, it only needs to be recognised by the people you want to find you for it to become offical.

    If the existing structure's management is stupid enough not to keep it's house in order then there is nothing to stop a new structure replacing it, one built upon the original values of the the internet and less like the whore that the "Official" internet has become

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: OFC there are always options

      Riiiiight. How exactly are we to coordinate the replacement of the .uk registry if the U.K. government doesn't want us to do so? Because that will require either convincing all the ISPs to go along with us, convincing the root servers to change their records, or every citizen who uses the internet to perform a manual configuration check. Adding an entry to the DNS for a small group is doable though pointless, but replacing an existing one or adding a replacement without external support will not be feasible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: OFC there are always options

        no need to replace .uk but if you really wanted to then your replacment DNS server could but that would make it less likely to be accomdated by the root servers that you feel are essential for DNS to work.

        as to "adding a replacement without external support will not be feasible", if for example google's DNS started resolving a new ".GB" then everyone using their servers for DNS resolution would not even notice the change. Same for openDNS or any other DNS that is trusted enough to have an impact.

        So if someone decided to make for example a zero advertising DNS authority then given the number of ad-blockers in use it might be popular enough for the control of DNS to pass out of the current hands, something that google themselves might consider

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: OFC there are always options

          You're of the belief that Google will set up an anti-advertising DNS system? Well, I can't argue with that.

          I don't think the root servers are required for a DNS system. I think they are required for a DNS system that gets used by the general public. You're trying to get something that replaces .uk or at least comes to dominate it so the .uk people don't have any power. That requires convincing people to get domains in your .gb or whatever new DNS space, which requires users to be able to access it. Not just users who are willing and know how to change their DNS settings, but users in general. Somehow, you think that's a possibility. I'll note that the first comment implied that it would be a utopian decentralized dream, and now the suggestion has changed to getting openDNS or Google to lend their weight, which isn't going to happen.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: OFC there are always options

            I don't think the root servers are required for a DNS system. I think they are required for a DNS system that gets used by the general public.

            It's all a trust thing. Or in this case, more of an anti-trust thing. The root servers shouldn't necessarily be used by joe.public unless their DNS can't find it in their resolver list. Then there's some signing to establish some form of additional trust, or sell more certs.

            But it's also one of those thorny issue that's long been discussed. In theory, anyone can set up a resolver and try to convince people to use it. If it clashes with the official ones, that may cause problems.. but supposing some organisation decided to offer a free, privacy enhanced & light-weight web browser and included alt-nameservers in the distro, it would work.. And it's been attempted in the past, but not really gained much traction. It's one of those splits that ops types consider though, and actions like Nominets may just make people look more seriously at doing it. Obvious candidates to create a new walled garden would be the usual suspects, MS, Google, Apple etc give or take anti-trust and bundling issues.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: OFC there are always options

              Of course that's possible. And it's been attempted before. I know of only one system at all like that that has buy-in, that being Tor's onion addresses (added privacy on that one, but an alternate way of naming sites). The reason: people don't want to fragment the internet when they don't have a good reason. The goal of changing the DNS system in this case is to reduce the power held by the operators and registrars of the .uk domains, but if it only works on a privacy-focused browser, or if a user changes some configuration settings, or if Google or Apple gets taken over by a mind control system and decides to do something diametrically opposed to all their previous actions, it won't succeed. Nontechnical users won't be able to access a new site in their favorite browser or operating system without doing some work they don't want or know how to do. Companies won't see the point in reserving a new domain name. Semitechnical users who could set this up won't have any domains they care about, so they won't bother adding the domain to their systems. Small organizations won't see the point in reserving a new domain name. Technical people who clearly know what they're doing will set it up, and never use it because only a few people have chosen to put domains there, the rest having chosen that the .uk people aren't that bad or having just moved to a different TLD that actually exists in the normal internet.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: OFC there are always options

                @doublelayer what you are trying to argue is that change is not possible when the reality is quite the opposite, as you have finally admitted.

                As to antiADs, many web users already employ blocking tools as AD are typically not the reason they paid for their internet connection. A DNS resolver who promises not to resolve dodgy/AD sites saves the need for additional blocking tools that are currently being targetted by google etc. Yes the Ads can use a IP instead but there are already tools like pihole handl this, more evidence that people are sick of being abused, potentially sick enough to want in on an internet that caters to their desires rather than for corporate profit.

                As has been already pointed out it is all about trust and increasingly even the low level users are becoming aware of the total disregard for their privacy and desires.

                Technically it is easy to bypass the "offical" DNS completely and that is something that these grabbers should consider. Companies pay them to get users to their sites but if DNS becomes fragmented then there goes their business.

                1. doublelayer Silver badge

                  Re: OFC there are always options

                  You seem to be misunderstanding or misstating my points. I do not contend that change is impossible. I contend that change of the type suggested is infeasible. I do not contend that anti-ad technology is impossible, unpopular, or the like. I contend that Google will not help with it. We seem to disagree strongly about the ease with which users can be convinced to change their DNS settings, and the enthusiasm for such a system on the part of businesses and other site operators. Your counterpoints to mine do not address this, unfortunately.

  23. zaax

    that will confuse things as a county code for the Ukraine is UKR

    1. Keith Langmead

      Along with the native .укр (that is romanized to .ukr), and the original .ua ccTLD.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trade Marks

    Why is it that trade mark laws don't apply to domain names? It seems reasonable to to me that no one should be able to register someone else trade mark as a domain name.

    Then again, if logic and reason were the order of the day civilization would collapse.

    1. 's water music

      Re: Trade Marks

      trademarks are scoped to specific industries I think so you could have multiple parties holding the same mark from a domain perspective

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Trade Marks

        That is quite true. In addition, you sometimes end up with situations where someone sues another someone over their domain name and it is hard to tell who should have the rights to it. For example, a year ago, someone who had the domain france.com which was used to organize tourism to France was sued by the French government, who wanted it for I don't really know why. You could make an argument that the tourism guy didn't have the right to get the domain in the first place because France already had the name, or that France didn't have the right to take it from him after he had been using it. Who is right?

        1. MonkeyCee

          Re: Trade Marks

          "Who is right?"

          Dunno about right, but generally these things go to the sovereign nation. It's got more favors to call in :D

          There have been "professional" cybersquatters who have gone the length to set up a small business with the same name as the target. The idea is to make the cost of paying their ransom cheaper than the potential legal costs.

  25. N2 Silver badge

    Monopoly?

    That is all.

  26. Nick Kew

    All those names ... all that confusion

    So who gets queen.uk? Someone looking to use names like drag.queen.uk?

    More seriously, isn't this likely to lead to confusion, and opportunities for fraud? In the past when I see names like gov.uk and nhs.uk, I can be reasonably sure of who they are. That's going to become blurred when you start getting phishing from hmrc.uk.

    1. Naselus

      Re: All those names ... all that confusion

      Since basically no-one wanted these new TLDs apart from the DNS registrars who are set to make an absolute killing off companies that now need to buy 2 domain names instead of 1... yes.

      This whole thing was just cooked up so that they could take an extra 8 quid off every company in the country every year, any serious argument levelled against the plan had to be ignored completely.

  27. Dave 15 Silver badge

    What do you expect

    HMG involved so of course a bunch of otherwise useless fat cats getting fatter

    Simple to stop, stop the idea of registering on behalf of someone else. You have to register on your own, its hardly difficult.

  28. Thelma H

    Nominet could choose to simply keep the 2nd level .uk domains in reserved / blocked status for the 3rd level .co.uk registrants who were eligible to claim the .uk domain, but where's the money in that? Nominet won't just profit from the registration fees. The DRS is the .UK equivalent of the UDRP, the domain dispute resolution procedure which applies to .com and many other TLDs. While UDRPs are filed with 3rd party arbiters like WIPO, rather than with the registry, .UK DRS disputes are filed directly with Nominet... and so it's the registry itself which is collecting the fees from every complaint. If you aren't flustered by bothersome ethical issues, it's a time-tested strategy-- create the problem, offer the solution.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nominet could choose to simply keep the 2nd level .uk domains in reserved / blocked status for the 3rd level .co.uk registrants who were eligible to claim the .uk domain, but where's the money in that?

      Also, it would be "somewhat unfair" to others.

      I am in the position of having a .org.uk domain (hence posting as AC) - and when the .uk shakedown was being talked up, it was said that holders of a .org.uk domain would have some rights over the corresponding .uk name.

      But, they lied - yes I think lie is an appropriate word to account for the difference between what they said was going to happen and what they actually implemented. For the .org.uk domain in question has no rights - the holder of the matching .co.uk domain has the rights over the .uk even though they've not taken up that right in the 5 years they've had it. So I have to wait until the .uk domain is made generally available and fight with everyone else to get it. TBH I'm not that bothered if I don't get it, but it's one of the cases Nominet conveniently ignores - and they've ignored my emails about it.

      What would be fairer would be if when the initial sunset period was over, those with a second choice right (like me) got a short period to register, then 3rd choice, until there are no holders of a domain with any "rights" - and then it became publicly available. But that would be too logical and customer focussed for Nominet.

  29. dank_army

    Domains still a thing?

    Nominet scare mongering enterprises to one side. Are domains really still a thing given that 99% of Joe public search for content, click through from social media etc. It's no coincidence that a good proportion of TV ads in the UK (at least) no longer display a web address - instead they just say "search somekeyword".

    I'd say last ditch effort by nominet to generate some revenue here - not sure what they plan to do next when it runs out.

    1. MonkeyCee

      Re: Domains still a thing?

      "not sure what they plan to do next when it runs out."

      Probably add 33-100% to the cost of each subscription. Or halve the sub period.

      That's using a model assuming they are being run by mafioso managlement and paranoid accountants.

  30. CommanderGalaxian
    Unhappy

    Trump Trade Deal

    Just wait till the UK domain registry gets sold to Trump as part of the #Brexit trade deal with the US.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When is the deadline?

    I'm confused. I recalled the deadline as being 10 June which seems to be confirmed here: https://www.nominet.uk/email-to-uk-rights-holders/ "the reservation will last until 10 June 2019."

    This ElReg article refers to 8 June so I thought I'd better check as I still have a handful of .co.uk names without the corresponding .uk

    Frankly I think the whole bare .uk scheme is a scam, I'm registering the variants for a year on a defensive basis but not routing them to a web site or using them at all.

    Go to https://www.nominet.uk/ and there's a countdown clock showing 18 days left (as at 6/6/19) saying "You may have a reserved .uk domain. The clock is ticking, register it today before someone else can".

    Further searching finds https://www.theukdomain.uk/do-i-have-uk-rights/ "If you own a .co.uk, .org.uk, .me.uk, .net.uk, .plc.uk, or ltd.uk domain, the matching .uk domain may have been reserved for you until 25 June 2019 and released to the open market on 1 July (what's the status of the names for the intervening week I wonder).

    I used to use 123reg and some time ago, without asking, they "reserved" some bare .uk name variants responding to the .co.uk registrations I held with them. Since then I moved almost everything away from 123 to somewhere that does uk names for half the price, has better customer service (as anyone who's used 123reg will know, that's easily done) and a better UI. I had tried to move the bare .uk names 123 hold but I get an error when I try to transfer out...

    With some other .co.uk names I held elsewhere it was going to cost about £8 to buy the bare .uk variant so I went looking and found 123reg were offering first year registration for 99p so I clicked that, it went into the shopping basket at £11.99 (inc VAT). Anyone know where to go to register them on the cheap?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When is the deadline?

      OOPS, I misread the ElReg article 8 _July_ not June, however the rest of my response remains. The risk to .co.uk name holders is less than it seemed as the reservation is to 25 June, the public release 1 July and the registrar bulk purchase deal to 8 July.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: When is the deadline?

      >I had tried to move the bare .uk names 123 hold but I get an error when I try to transfer out...

      Suspect (ie. hope) this will change once the free period expires in a few months time.

  32. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Surely, mars.co.uk, asda.co.uk, colgate.co.uk etc. already exist.

    1. Richard Cranium

      @J G Harston

      Yes the .co.uk names for most "household names" do already exist. The point of the article is that if they don't register the corresponding .uk (without .co) very soon there's a risk someone else will and may use it to the disadvantage of the registrant of the .co.uk name.

      Nominet's attitude to that risk is that if a third party were to use a the .uk equivalent of a .co.uk name to the disadvantage of the .co.uk name owner, it would be a breach of Nominet's T&C. What they gloss over is that their Dispute Resolution Service costs £200 for mediation, if that fails you can get an expert decision for £750 and if you don't like the result an appeal costs a further £3,000 taking the potential total to £3950 +VAT.

      If a third party had registered mars.uk and was selling sweets Mars Inc lawyers would be on the case in the twinkling of an eye (and probably resort to the courts at much higher potential legal costs than Nominet's DRS if mars.uk was being used by a third party for any purpose whatsoever).

      The real risk in this situation is to small businesses. They are less likely to be aware of the issue so may not have registered the .uk name variants. They are less able to fund a legal battle should the need arise.

      Some of the examples listed in the ElReg article, including mars.uk, have been registered (presumably by the eponymous confectionery manufacturer). The fact that many of the .uk registrations (including at time of writing mars.uk) don't take you to a functioning web site seems to me to be a recognition by the holders of those names that they are worthless but need to be held to prevent anyone else getting them.

      You might think: why not route mars.uk to the functioning web site at mars.co.uk The reason is that once you've done that the name will get "known" possibly by some search engines, possibly by some users of that web site. That means that you're committed to paying the annual renewal for ever. Not a problem for Mars Inc but for a small business, perhaps protecting a few brand names and domain name variants (like multi-word names with and without hyphens between words) the opportunity to save even a few tens of pounds is sometimes welcome.

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