back to article Nominet shakes up system for expiring .uk domains, just happens to choose one that will make it £millions. Again

UK internet registry operator Nominet has decided to reform the way in which expired .uk domains are released and, to no one's surprise, has decided that the best solution is one that will result in it receiving millions of pounds in profit. Last week, the organisation published [PDF] what it says is a "consultation" on the …

  1. Pat Att

    This looks very dodgy

    Surely, to be this bad the organisation must be run by a Tory minister, or one of their cronies?

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: This looks very dodgy

      This just seems the norm for internet overseers these days, it's not just a UK thing...

    2. RegGuy1 Silver badge

      Re: This looks very dodgy

      Mr Grayling?

  2. TimMaher Bronze badge
    Flame

    ICANN...Therefore I will

    Is Nominet now registered in Delaware?

    Wholly owned subsidiary of Ethos perhaps?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: ICANN...Therefore I will

      It does sound like a dodgy buyer waiting in the wings scenario.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Does Nominet come under the jurisdiction of OFCOM? If not, why not and isn't it time it did?

  4. Diogenes8080

    So there isn't any conflict of interest between being the auctioneer of expired domain names and running the dispute process?

    Given the types of mischief that a previously-active domain can be used for, the non-profit solution would be to lock expired domains until such time as a new customer could make a good case for using an old name AND pass some sort of effective diligence. That would of course exclude 95% of the average registry's customer base.

    1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

      It's called 'self-regulation', where people presume they're of such a high moral standing that regulation by others is not necessary.

  5. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    One way to spend the money

    Nominet can have their £4 admin fee but the rest should go to the people who made the domain name valuable: the previous owner.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: One way to spend the money

      the rest should go to the people who made the domain name valuable: the previous owner.

      Surely it has little to no value or they'd never be dropping it, would have kept it or transferred it for a wad of dosh.

      That the potential purchaser can see value in it doesn't mean the previous owner created that value.

      1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

        Re: One way to spend the money

        Surely it has little to no value or they'd never be dropping it, would have kept it or transferred it for a wad of dosh.

        I can think of a couple of good enough reasons why a domain name, especially one used by a small business, might have expired, especially if it reads more like a personal, rather than a business name:

        • The owner has died and their property, including the domain name, is still in probate.
        • The owner decided to retire and no employees, friends or relatives want to take over the business

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Lack of awareness by liquidators

          My experience is that they disregard the domain names and do nothing, potentially allowing them to expire perhaps allowing time for whoever had effective control of the names to benefit in some way...

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: One way to spend the money

      I can't agree with that since the previous owner let it drop, therefor there is no value to be had and certainly none to be transferred to him/it.

  6. jake Silver badge

    The various registrars aren't getting the message, are they?

    We need a bigger stick.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Flame

      Re: The various registrars aren't getting the message, are they?

      Stick's not working. Aren't flamethrowers cheap nowadays?

      1. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

        Re: The various registrars aren't getting the message, are they?

        You need to discuss that with Elon.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: The various registrars aren't getting the message, are they?

          I'd love one of Elon's Falcon 9 Flamethrowers, I just can't afford it.

  7. IGotOut Silver badge

    Best method to stop crap like this...

    everyone ignore it.

  8. maffski

    From the 'consultation'

    'In order to provide the exact time and date an expired domain name will be become available for registration we will need to introduce a time period of certainty where the domain cannot be renewed by its previous registrant and has not yet been deleted and made available for registration by a new registrant (i.e. a Pending Delete period). We would consider a Pending Delete period of around five days.'

    Brilliant, so if you forget to renew your domain you'll be blocked from purchasing it to make sure the squatters have a chance to bid for it.

    1. SWCD

      Re: From the 'consultation'

      "Brilliant, so if you forget to renew your domain you'll be blocked from purchasing it to make sure the squatters have a chance to bid for it."

      Well, not quite...

      Once you’ve gone over your expiry date, you’ll still have time to renew your domain before it gets cancelled, so there’s no need to panic. But if we don’t receive a renewal request within 30 days of the expiry date, we’ll suspend the domain name. This means all services that use that domain name, such as your website and email, will stop working. We’ll send you a suspension warning seven days before this happens, and will also send you a suspension notice when it takes place, unless your registrar has opted you out of receiving these. It’s still possible to renew your domain during this time. When your domain has been suspended for 60 days without being renewed, we’ll schedule it for cancellation. We’ll send you one final reminder to renew your domain 83 days after the expiry date. As this is just seven days before your domain is scheduled for cancellation, you’ll have to act quickly if you wish to renew it at this last stage.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: From the 'consultation'

        Who is "we", Kemosabe?

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: From the 'consultation'

          That looks like it’s from the FAQ of a hosting provider with domain park services.

      2. Richard Cranium

        Re: From the 'consultation'

        The flaw with the system of notifying registrants is that it relies solely on email although nominet hold postal and phone contacts. A client of mine lost a valuable domain name because she'd changed her email address and hadn't updated Nominet. It was a secondary name held to protect a trademarked product name not the primary one used for her web site so the period for which it was not functioning went unnoticed.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely this is a Restrictive Practice ...

    ... that results in a Market rigged against those who are excluded from participation in the auction?

  10. katrinab Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I've picked up some expired domains in the past, including a 4 letter one that matches my name.

    I looked up some domains, saw that the company that had registered one of the names on my check list had ceased trading, so looked to see when it was going to expire.

    I put the date in my electronic diary, and then ordered it from my usual hosting provider. Obviously the speculators weren't interested in it, but it was useful for me.

    How will this change things?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      As I read it you won't be able to order it through your usual supplier,you'll have to bid at the auction. The auction will be advertised and there's more likelihood of somebody noticing it. The Harry Potter first edition that the local charity shop marks at £1-50 on its bookshelf would make much more if they put it into auction.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        RE: The auction will be advertised and there's more likelihood of somebody noticing it.

        All those successfully auctioned addresses will be harvested by parasites offering to build websites, etc. so that's a reason not to buy at auction.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: RE: The auction will be advertised and there's more likelihood of somebody noticing it.

          I have tracked expired domains and been around on midnight after the grace period to try and grab them, only to see them swiped by auto-bots. One in particular stayed parked since, not used.

      2. The Nazz Silver badge

        By eck

        £1.50?

        You go to some posh charity shops dont'cha?

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      "...any auction model should rely on multiple interested parties to determine price."

      Seem to imply names will be held onto until such time as there are multiple interested parties...

  11. Mike 137 Silver badge

    The real problem

    The way .uk domains are sold to third parties is not the real problem. That is trade mark infringement. A domain name that replicates a trade mark should not be saleable by any means to anyone except the trade mark holder. And that should not apply solely to registered trade marks, but should also apply to unregistered trade marks that have become established by use. The new TLD will in most cases not differentiate sufficiently to eliminate the public confusion wrt a trade mark, so any such conflicting domain names should be available exclusively to the trade mark holder. Sorry about the loss of revenue, but for Nominet to aid and abet trade mark infringement can only bring it further into disrepute, and ultimately might land it in the dock if right were right. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be when there are bucks to grab.

    1. Graham Cobb

      Re: The real problem

      Don't forget that there are many holders for the same or similar trademarks (I just took a look at "Jameson" -- there are 24 pages of holders of that or similar marks, including law firms, confectionery manufacturers, and many others as well as the famous Whiskey manufacturer). And, of course, anyone not using it for commerce is entitled to use it any way they want. As well as nominative uses like "ihatejameson.com" and "ihatejamesonwhiskey.com"

      Trademarks don't prevent people using a word - they only stop people using it to misrepresent themselves. And given the fact that domain names are not aligned to any one industry, trademark use should be a tiny factor in domain name dispute resolution.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The real problem

        The High Court has confirmed that a registrant may be liable for passing off by merely registering a domain name including a third party trade mark, regardless of the registrant's future plans for use of the domain name. Check out the "One in a Million" case. You could also see what happens if you try registering a name that includes the words "Easy" or "Virgin" I expect the dodgy owners of some well known related names will be in touch.

        1. gonetomars

          Re: The real problem

          Names regged including words like "easy" or "virgin" will clearly be likely to be contentious, with or without content, but in their own right either of these words would amount to excellent acquisitions, TM's or not. From then on it's about what content you use, holding page with For Sale sign, no worries.

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "It doesn't want people to think badly of it, though"

    Way too late for that, mate.

  13. cipnt

    Nominet needs to go

    Nominet is an infrastructure provider (similar to OpenReach) and should keep its registry business completely separate and transparent, regulated by OfCom.

    Ideally it should be turned into a non-profit too.

    They are a monopoly, they shouldn't be allowed to profit from from something that is essential to modern life

    1. aks Bronze badge

      Re: Nominet needs to go

      Non-profit organisations are created to fill the pockets of the directors as there are no shareholders to hold them to account and no profits to generate taxable income.

      1. cipnt

        Re: Nominet needs to go

        I know, they are already doing that anyway.

        With oversight from OfCom maybe that can be avoided

  14. lsces

    So we do have to keep the .co.uk domains?

    Having switched many sites to a simple .uk I'm now dropping the .co.uk versions ... and I'm getting daily emails from the registrars AND Nominet about needing to renew them ... this con sounds like another reason to HAVE to continue paying them even if the .co.uk domain IS our registered trade mark?

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: So we do have to keep the .co.uk domains?

      I've got a client who ONLY has a dot uk. So needing the correspondng co.uk sounds spurious to me.

      1. lsces

        Re: So we do have to keep the .co.uk domains?

        New sites we have set up in the last few years have all been .uk, but we had the .co.uk simply to forward to the .uk one ... now probably should not have bothered and save a few pounds?

    2. cipnt

      Re: So we do have to keep the .co.uk domains?

      Keep the .co.uk for a couple more years and redirect it to your .uk

      You visitors might still be somewhat confused by .uk/.co.uk so it's better to have both covered

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So we do have to keep the .co.uk domains?

        When I last looked most "household names" companies own both .co.uk and .uk but don't use the .uk, not even to forward to .co.uk

        I agree with that approach, .co.uk had been common standard for over 25 years, the general public is familiar with it and there's a risk that they will view .uk with suspicion.

        If Nominet had any notion of ethics they would not permit anyone other than the owner of a .co.uk name to buy the corresponding .uk However that would prevent Nominet from further feathering their nest with dual registration fees and "dispute resolution" fees, far better to allow a scammer to register a similar name to that of a legitimate organisation and then profit from the ensuing dispute.

        Government intervention is long overdue.

  15. Ashto5

    £2500

    That’s what they wanted for a domain that is parked on.

    They should ban that sort of thing

    Use it or lose it

    1. cipnt

      Re: £2500

      You can't really ban secondary marked trade...

      Even in countries/ccTLD where selling domain names is specifically restricted by t&c the practice still goes on hidden behind consultancy or other adjacent fees, and the domain is transferred for free.

  16. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    I hate to say it but if it wasn't for Google Maps listings, these .uk domains would be a menace for businesses with a physical location, requiring companies to aggressively SEO to prevent a huge variety of potentially serious problems for their regular website users

  17. saabpilot

    Sound like we need a new organisation that is not corrupted by greed for the benefit of all.

    They have become what a lot of self-regulating body's become corrupt and self-serving. Not what Tim Berners-Lee initially envisaged. Time to rip it down and start again!

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Sound like we need a new organisation that is not corrupted by greed for the benefit of all.

      WTF does l'il Timmy have to do with domain name registration?

  18. DropCatcher.co.uk

    Nominet greed at the expense of the small registrar

    I run DropCatcher.co.uk which was the first commercial service for catching .UK domains and has been running for the past 18 years. We have helped many thousands of clients catch their domain of interest. The current process would be fair if Nominet applied the anti-collusion rules properly but they have been allowing people to sign up for multiple accounts in order to game the system. Some would say they have deliberately done this in order to necessitate a change in the process that just coincidentally enriches them and/or the top 5 registrars who sit on the board.

    No-one in the industry believes Nominet will take note of the majority of member who submit a response to the consultation and I'm sure they have already decided that an auction model is the way to transfer any remaining iota of revenue out of the small member hands to themselves. My business will be destroyed and Nominet won't give it a second thought.

  19. gonetomars

    Presumably if we end up with this distasteful Nominet auction model we can expect the start price for all auctions to begin at the 1 year renewel fee. At least then only contested names will be adding to the already embarrassing pile of cash that Nominet is sitting on.

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