An internet address is known as a domain name and Nominet is the registry for handling those domain names with UK connotations
By way of brief background, a domain name is made up of different levels and one ending .com, or .gov is a typical ‘top-level’ domain worldwide. Likewise the ‘uk’ in .co.uk is considered the ‘top level’ for our domestic names, with the .co part being a second level.
In recent years the leash on top level domains has been significantly extended and it is now possible to have access to a much wider scope of designations. In its efforts to keep with this trend Nominet has issued revised proposals to allow for second level .uk domain registrations (such as www.nominet.uk as opposed to www.nominet.co.uk).
The change may at first glance appear trivial, but there is of course great value in domain name ownership and acquiring domains in different designations (i.e. .co.uk, .com, .net etc) is a good way to ensure the use of your business name is protected. As some may be aware, the practice of cybersquatting – where a third party acquires and holds a domain name containing a business’s name to ransom – is something to be pre-empted and avoided.
Nominet’s proposals do attempt to take account of this commercial value and the intellectual property issues at stake. The current proposals confirm that those with existing second level registrations such as .co.uk will have a six month period in which they have rights of first refusal on any new second level .uk designations. After then, and for any domains not in existence, the new second level registrations will be allowed on a first come first served basis.
Nominet have invited comments on their proposals to be sent by 23rd September 2014. They have also confirmed that any implementation of the proposals would only be after a 30 day notice period and would not in any event occur before 2014. In the meantime, it would be wise for all those with value in their brand name to be mindful of the potential changes.