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Nominet to release ultra-short .uk domains this year

Kevin Murphy, September 13, 2010, Domain Registries

Nominet, the .uk registry, today outlined its plan to start releasing one and two-character .co.uk domains before the end of 2010.

The launch plan comprises two sunrise periods and a landrush. Contested applications in all three phases will be settled by an auction, with profits going to the Nominet Trust.

The first sunrise is for holders of UK-enforceable trademarks, when the mark was registered and in use in the UK before January 1, 2008. The second will allow holders of unregistered rights to participate.

The landrush will be open to all. Applications will be handled by approved .uk registrars.

Nominet said it plans to publish the launch timeline in more detail on November 1, but that the first sunrise will open before the end of the year.

The list of names to be released is published here (pdf). It includes all 10 digits and all 26 letters of the alphabet under .co.uk, .net.uk, .org.uk and .me.uk, with the exception of u.net.uk, which is already registered.

The vast majority of two-character combinations will also be released under all four of these 2LDs, with the exception of a handful of old registrations such as bt.co.uk and existing 3LD namespaces such as ac.net.uk.

Domains matching existing two-letter country-code TLDs do not appear to be exempt.

Free entry to the .uk iPad prize giveaway

Kevin Murphy, August 2, 2010, Domain Registries

Nominet is giving away eight iPads and dozens of iTunes vouchers to new .uk domain name registrants, but you can enter the prize draw for free if you know where to look.

The promotion starts today and runs until September 27. Every week, the company will give away one iPad. Every day, a £25 iTunes voucher will be up for grabs.

The promotion is being offered via participating .uk registrars, as well as by Nominet itself.

Without delving into the terms and conditions, you’d be forgiven for thinking you have to register a domain name to enter the draw.

Not so. Under UK law, companies have to offer no-purchase-necessary alternatives when they run competitions like this, and Nominet is no exception.

If you live in the UK, you can enter here for free.

It looks like you’ll have to enter every week to be eligible for all eight prize draws.

UK domains get government oversight

With the passing of the Digital Economy Bill last night, the UK government has created powers to oversee Nominet, the .uk registry manager, as well as any new gTLD that is “UK-related”.

The Bill would allow the government to replace a registry if, in its opinion, the registry’s activities tarnish the reputation or availability of UK internet services.

It also allows the minister to apply to a court to alter the constitution of a registry such as Nominet.

The legislation was created in response to concerns that the registry could be captured by domainers, following a turbulent few years within Nominet’s leadership.

Nominet has since modified its constitution to make this unlikely, and is now of the position that the government will have no need to exercise its new powers.

The Bill does not name Nominet specifically, but rather any domain registry that is “UK-related”.

An internet domain is “UK-related” if, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, the last element of its name is likely to cause users of the internet, or a class of such users, to believe that the domain and its sub-domains are connected with the United Kingdom or a part of the United Kingdom.”

This almost certainly captures the proposed .eng, .scot and .cym gTLDs, which want to represent the English, Scots and Welsh in ICANN’s next new gTLD round.

Nominet seeks new chair

Kevin Murphy, March 30, 2010, Domain Registries

Bob Gilbert has stepped aside as chairman of .uk registry Nominet, to be replaced temporarily by deputy chair Gordon Dick.

The news comes as Nominet seeks to draw a line under a tumultuous few years that have seen the non-profit company attempt to fight off domainers on the one hand and a power grab by the UK government on the other.

These efforts have been hit and miss.

While Nominet has successfully reformed its corporate governance to make it less vulnerable to capture by special interests, the government will still shortly enact the Digital Economy Bill, which gives the business secretary unprecedented reserve powers to appoint a new .uk registry manager.

“Having successfully updated Nominet’s constitution, a time consuming exercise for all involved, it is now time for the company to move into its next phase of development under new leadership,” Gilbert, who joined Nominet in 2005, said in a statement.

UDRP claim pits .me against .me.uk

Kevin Murphy, March 29, 2010, Domain Policy

The owner of GuestList.me.uk has filed a UDRP claim against the registrant of GuestList.me.

As far as I can tell, this is the first UDRP case to directly pit a company built on a .me.uk brand against the registrant of the .me equivalent.

GuestList.me.uk is a London, UK-based nightclub promotions site that has been using its domain since 2003.

GuestList.me, which does not currently resolve, was registered through LCM.com’s privacy service on July 18, 2008, during the first 24 hours of .me general availability.

Given that LCM is a UK-based registrar, it seems plausible that GuestList.me’s registrant is also British.

It will be interesting to see which way this decision goes. There’s plenty of opportunity for precedent.

Nominet bill set for UK law

Kevin Murphy, March 25, 2010, Domain Registries

The UK government is set to pass a controversial law that will create powers to regulate domain names more or less arbitrarily and even seize control of the .uk registry.

The Digital Economy Bill is best known for its Draconian anti-piracy provisions, but it also gives the relevant Secretary of State the power to replace Nominet as the .uk registry manager.

To oust Nominet, the secretary of state would have to decide that certain fairly broad criteria had been met. Quoting from the bill’s explanatory notes:

The registry itself, its end-users (that is, owners of or applicants for domain names) or registrars (that is, agents of end-users) have been engaging in practices prescribed in regulations made by the Secretary of State which are unfair or which involve the misuse of internet domain names; or

The registry’s arrangements for dealing with complaints in connection with domain names do not comply with requirements prescribed in regulations made by the Secretary of State.

The practices in question are expected to include: cybersquatting, drop-catching, “pressure sales tactics”, phishing, distributing malware, spamming or “intentionally misleading the public into believing there is a connection between the domain name owner and other organisations”.

Basically, the daily background noise of the internet. (continue reading)

Nominet to release one-letter domains

Nominet, the .uk registry, is thinking about releasing previously restricted domains for registration, including one and two-letter domains and domains that match existing TLDs.

If the scheme goes ahead, it would mean hundreds of domains such as com.co.uk, mobi.co.uk and de.co.uk, which contain strings currently used at the top level, could be auctioned off.

Essentially all ccTLD strings would be made available, as well as (continue reading)

UK won’t drop Nominet takeover bill

The UK government has “no plans” to remove its right to oust Nominet as the .uk registry from the forthcoming Digital Economy Bill, according to ComputerWorld.

The controversial bill is best known for its draconian restrictions on peer-to-peer file sharing, but it would also give the government the right to remove Nominet (continue reading)