back to article Chancers keep buying up dot-UK company name domains: Got a problem? That'll be £750 for Nominet to rule on it

Fresh from banking a £100m windfall through its controversial dot-UK cash grab, Nominet is now sorting out the aftermath – through its quasi-legal UK registry's domain name dispute resolution service. In the last few weeks three companies have secured rulings over dot-UK domain names which were abusively registered by people …

  1. Franco

    If only someone had predicted that this was exactly what would happen. Oh, wait...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Interestingly we were told by a very large UK Registrar that no more than about 1 in 200 .UK domains are being renewed at the end of the free year.

      1. Ian 55

        As many as that?!

  2. Blockchain commentard

    How about a chancer buying and flogging it to themselves. See how they like it

    1. Alister

      Sadly they've thought of that - registered in 2014

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      How about somebody suing the infringer and Nominet as an accessory for passing off?

  3. OldManBlueSkies

    It's horrid to get snuck out by these buggers. I registered a trademark and the next day I find that the .com is registered. I know it's my own fault but the nominet fees match exactly what the chancer is demanding for the hijacked domain. In a court of law the fees would be charged to the offender, but in resolution mode they charge the fees initially. Very naughty people. I however let them keep it. If they want to use my trademark I will sue them.

  4. Steve Graham

    My local Indian takeaway has a .uk domain. When I saw the new sign go up, I thought it must be a mistake and the ".co." had been left out, but no, it was correct. I'm still not sure if it happened by chance or there's some backroom mastermind nerd setting things up exactly the way he likes it.


    I have personal experience of this. I as a classic case of passing off, it was obvious but Nominet made me jump through some very expensive hoops to secure the name. It had been registered by a Panamanian company. The most recent event was much more simple, a very similar name was taken by a UK competitor, a simple letter from our solicitor put the fear of God into them, the company name, website and limited company had been taken down within a week.

    Nominet are hugely unethical, they should never issue a trademarked domain name to anyone other than the tradmark owner.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What happens, if (God forbid), with all the Brexit issues, Northern Ireland becomes an independent state?

    UK = The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    1. TimMaher Silver badge


      Then Nominet would make a shed load by issuing a stack of brand new .ni and .gb and forcing the replacement of all .uk.

      Or something like that.


      1. Captain Scarlet

        Re: UK

        Come on they won't do that, they will recommend you register every single one (All they care about is money anyway).

        1. Franco

          Re: UK

          Nah, that would be too nice for Nominet. They'll auto register them all for you, then try to bill you at renewal time.

          Or alternatively (as they are doing now) sell them to their approved cybersquatters and charge you a fortune to get them back.

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      UK would still exist, just smaller without the NI part.

      The other 3 states comprising the UK aren't going anywhere. Well, not yet.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        >The other 3 states comprising the UK aren't going anywhere.

        Well given the Kingdom of England only came into existence in 927AD, from the unification of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms; England alone could continue to call itself the UK.

        The only question is whether UK(England) would continue to wave the Union Jack or adopt St.Georges cross...

      2. Geoff Heaton

        Technically. the 'other 3' are called Great Britain, so probably need .gb

    3. Steve Graham

      .uk was assigned to Ukraine, while the UK (government) took .gb

      It was only the persistence of nerds of the early internet -- people who like terminology to be correct -- that .uk became the de facto domain for the UK.

  7. Securitymoose

    Simple solution to domain squatting

    If someone buys up a .uk already in existence as a (.com or .eu) with a registered company, Nominet transfer ownership to that company at no charge - after all, its already been paid for. This would stop the squatting, and also show that Nominet is not in it just to milk the punters (unless they are, in which case, shame on them, and let's lobby the next government to being them down.)

  8. gnarlymarley

    A full Nominet Expert decision, stripping a dot-UK web domain from someone who breaks Nominet's domain registration rules and handing it to someone more deserving, costs £750 plus VAT. Should the initial decision not go your way, an appeal to a panel of three Nominetters costs no less than £3,000 plus VAT.

    This is a very good reason why people "should" keep information publicly accessible on whois (or on a whois replacement). Whois can tell me if a company owns multiple domains. When Companies try to "hide" their email address, it makes it difficult to verify domains. What companies "should do" is rather than give out their personal email, they should give out an alias that points to their personal email.

    1. Richard Cranium

      Who Is

      Contact details should be available in WhoIs but the registrant should be allowed to opt-out . I have some names I no longer need, I'd be quite happy if people could look up in whois, find my email and offer me vast sums of money for the names... The act of opting out could be taken as an indication that the name may be registered in bad faith but Nominet don't seem to do much checking so registrants have the option of providing incorrect details anyway.

      My Nominet control panel contains details of domains that were transferred to other owners many years ago but the registrant never bothered to update them so owner, phone, email and street address are all wrong, the email address is mine, the phone was disconnected 5 years ago, not sure if the building still exists.

      In any case Nominet don't use any of that data apart from the email. I discovered that when someone got in touch to see if I could find out why their web site had stopped working. The client had paid the annual renewal a couple of months earlier.

      It turned out the client changed email address a few months earlier. They still had the old address but didn't check the mailbox any more, hundreds of junk emails a day had rendered it useless. I logged in and did a search. I found an email from Nominet advising that the domain name would be cancelled due to incorrect information, they didn't specify what the problem was, I had to find out by trial and error.

      The client hadn't changed postal address or phone number but Nominet hadn't tried to use either. The client hadn't updated their email address at Nominet . Even if the email had still been current it's stupid to rely solely on that, emails don't always reach their intended recipient, spam filters for example.

      I think the problem was that the company name field held something like "Richard Cranium (trading as dickhead)" . When registering the name at e.g. 123reg (don't) there is no field for "trading as" so the client had used their initiative for greater clarity. The t/a name matched their domain name. If you log in to your Nominet account there is a separate field, for trading as, the client didn't know that. Had they provided less information omitting "trading as..." they'd have been OK.

      Had Nominet followed their supposed normal process of merely suspending the name, fixing the "trading as" issue would have resolved the problem but Nominet had released the name back to the market although the client had paid their annual renewal not long before.

      Rather than waste any more time trying to get any sense out of Nominet the quickest fix was to just buy the name again as leaving it on the open market any longer risked a drop-catcher grabbing it.

      So Nominet do seem to wake up from time time and make a few checks but as we have come to expect of Nominet, they do it badly.

      A very similar arose with a name registered some 25 years ago, it had been fine for most of that time but then a Nominet jobsworth spotted that the address fields specified the country as GB rather than UK. They threatened to repossess the name, again they didn't identify what the problem was merely that there was a problem: "the registrant details are not correct".

      OK both stories date back several years and doubtless Nominet would deny everything and then claim that they've tightened up procedures anyway...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Expect more of the same...

    If I recall correctly the original deadline for name holders to register the corresponding "bare" .uk variant was 10 June 2019. Those variants unregistered by the cut-off date started to become available to others not long after that date. I understand that name registrars then had the opportunity to buy names before they went on general release. About 2 million names became available over a few days at the start of July. It was a competitive episode, registrars could increase their opportunities of grabbing names by paying a fee to Nominet of up to £90,000. The following week remaining names were made available to the general public.

    In the year leading up to the cut-off date many registrars speculatively registered the bare .uk variants of their client's names with a view to encouraging the name owner to pay for subsequent annual renewals.

    A name that has been registered but not subsequently renewed is suspended for a further 90 days before release. The exact time and date of release is staggered.

    That means this story will run for at least a year as more names reach renewal date and are allowed to lapse.

    A domain name holder needs to make a decision as to whether to retain the bare uk name(s). The need to retain a name is greater if a name is desirable.

    "Desirable" includes short, single word (especially proper-nouns), and actively used names

    It seems to me that in the 5 years since they became available, relatively few organisations actively use the bare uk variant of the name they use for such as web and email addresses. It still has a poor recognition factor and risks being "untrusted". I would guess that many people, seeing a link to would be suspicious. They're familiar with so what's this? A fake of some sort? My advice to tesco would be to hold the name but not to use it, not even routing it to the "correct" domain name. My opinion is that the bare uk names are useless except as a revenue generator for Nominet. They should be provided free or for a nominal charge to holders of the corresponding name. All Nominet would need to do is add a field to the registration details to indicate "also holds bare uk".

    There's no good reason to hold a long unwieldy hyphenated or multi-word name unless the name is in active use. If some guy in India wants to buy that let him waste his money, a pity UK names cost so little (but I'm sure Nominet will continue with unnecessary price hikes so they can pay themselves more).

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Expect more of the same...

      This was one area where 123-Reg did their customers a service, by pre-registering .uk domains until October 2019. Having got on the ball back in 2017, I was able to talk to my clients about their .uk domain and their branding.

      Interestingly, what people are forgetting is that only got first pick, after June 2019, owners of other domains have a pick. the real fun and games will start when <ACME> decides to take on <ACME>.uk formerly known as <ACME>

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One of those "chancers" registered the following among others:

    And he's on the Nominet Board!

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