Nominet Dispute Resolution Service

Written by Samuel O’Toole | October 30, 2020

Intellectual Property

The people at Nominet are lovely, recently they reported that they take care of 10,829,109 “.uk” domains, but besides taking care of so many domains they also provide a relatively cost and time effective forum for .uk domain disputes.

The Nominet Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) is something that all owners of .uk domains will have signed up to be bound by as part of the contract with Nominet. This means that if you want to recover your rightful domain, or have been alleged to not be the rightful domain owner, you’re in luck the DRS is your forum.

If a party, a complainant, is to stand any chance in successfully obtaining a domain from a third party, a respondent, via the DRS, that party is going to have make a convincing case that:

  1. the complainant has rights in respect of a name or mark which is identical or similar to the domain name; and
  2. the domain name, in the hands of the respondent, is an abusive registration.

Taking the first strand, “has rights in respect of a name or mark”. This is a low threshold, it’s not limited to registered trade marks but instead any rights under English law. As a potential complainant its great news! For respondents, on the other hand, it means that a usual registered trade mark search, undertaken prior to the purchase of a “.uk” domain may not reveal all potential challenges.

The second element of the test chucks the ball into the hands of the respondent. The DRS Policy details two definitions of an “abusive registration”. Essentially though a respondent has to have obtained the domain in a manner that took unfair advantage or detrimented the complainant’s rights, or the respondent is now using the domain in such a manner.

The DRS then goes on to give a number of illustrations in which a domain might be an abusive registration. In brief summary, some of the (non-exhaustive) things not to do if you don’t want to be accused of holding an abusive domain: buy it to then sell to the complainant, prevent the complainant from registering the domain or disrupt the complainant’s business.

There are a few other factors that can be taken into account when deciding if a domain is an abusive registration. For instance if a respondent has had three or more DRS losses in a two year period, in which the DRS is brought, then an abusive registration is presumed.

As far as arguments of this nature go, the DRS really is a good place to have one. Its cost effective and the process is relatively pain-free – dependant on which side you are on of course. If you have a domain issue or related question, why not get in touch with us on 02072886003 or  where one of our expert lawyers will be more than happy to explain the DRS do’s and the DRS do not’s.

Written by Sam O’Toole, Solicitor

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