London
30 October 2012
Reporter: Mark Dugdale
Securities Lending default image

Domain investment company founder attacks .uk plans


Plans to offer UK-based businesses the opportunity to apply for shorter .uk domains are likely to destroy trust in the .co.uk TLD that they have collectively fought so hard to establish, according to the co-founder of a domain investment company,

Memorable Domains has a portfolio of approximately 7000 .co.uk domains. Its co-founder Edwin Hayward has released a position paper objecting to the introduction of shorter .uk domains.

Non-profit organisation Nominet, which is responsible for running the .uk domain infrastructure, has drafted proposals for a .uk TLD to run alongside the current .co.uk.

Domain name applicants would have to prove that they are based in the UK to register a .uk domain.

They would be released in stages, with registered rights holders’ applications considered in the first stage, and then unregistered rights holders.

Holders of existing .co.uk domain names—and other variations—would be granted unregistered rights under the proposed plans.

Nominet is seeking opinions on its draft proposals, with the consultation period running until 7 January 2013.

“With the UK internet economy estimated to be worth £121 billion and increasing, the matters of security, ease of use, and choice are becoming ever more important,” said Lesley Cowley, CEO of Nominet. “This new secure domain space would boost the growth of the UK internet economy. We are aware that it represents a significant change to the landscape of the .uk internet and we are committed to taking all points of view on board.”

In his position paper, Hayward said that although UK-based businesses “spend billions of pounds a year branding .co.uk as a component of their online identities”, Nominet proposes to hand .uk domains "directly to trademark holders”.

He explained: “After trademark holders have had their pick, any remaining domains will next be offered to the registrants of all matching domains at the third level (.co.uk, .org.uk, .me.uk, .ac.uk, .gov.uk etc.) with no regard for when these were first registered. This will mean expensive auctions for the right to register the corresponding .uk domain name in the case of competing claims.”

“Nominet's process for allocating .uk flies in the face of best practices that have been refined over the last 13 years by a dozen countries which have themselves successfully undertaken similar transitions, including Japan, China and [South] Korea.”

He went on to suggest an alternative proposal that “enshrines the strict ‘first come, first served’ principle that has been at the heart of Nominet's domain registration service”.

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