.UK domain name complaints drop

Nominet released the 2018 annual summary of domain name disputes brought before its Dispute Resolution Service (DRS).

The total number of domain names that were subject to DRS Complaints in 2018 was 763, which represents just 0.0063% of the domain names on the register.  Just under half of the complaints (49%) in 2018 resulted in a domain transfer. In 2017, by comparison, 55% resulted in a domain transfer.

There were 671 complaints made in 2018 (a complaint can involve more than 1 domain) and that is the lowest number of complaints in a year since at least 2010:

The year also saw a decrease in the number of disputes resolved with the domain name being voluntarily transferred to the Complainant by the Respondent upon receipt of the complaint, but an increase in the number of complaints resolved through Mediation, up from 77 cases to 93. Of the complaints made in 2018, just a single Expert decision was appealed compared to three the previous year. The outcome upheld the original No Action finding.

Brands such as Mastercard, Bloomberg Finance, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Rightmove and Superdry used the DRS in 2018. Other users of the service included The Royal British Legion, the Moulin Rouge, The Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, and the Westfield Sports Centre in Sheffield.

Cases of interest:

  • hmrc-tax-refund-gov.uk

A complaint filed by HM Revenue & Customs regarding a domain name containing the initials HMRC and terms related to taxation. At the time that the complaint was made, the domain name did not resolve to an active web site, although some similar ones do include fake login details to engage in phishing.  A summary decision awarded the domain name to the Complainant.

  • moulinrougewinlaton.co.uk & moulinrougethemusical.co.uk

The Complainant is the world-famous cabaret, performed in a 19th-century windmill in Paris.  They filed three DRS Complaints in 2018.  One case was closed when the Respondent agreed to transfer the registration.  The Registrant of the moulinrougewinlaton.co.uk domain name is a pizza and grill takeaway in Gateshead.  A summary decision awarded the domain name to the Paris Moulin Rouge, as was reported by The Sun newspaper and featured in an episode of the BBC’s Have I Got News For You. The domain name moulinrougethemusical.co.uk was also awarded to the Complainant, with the Expert stating “Given the fame of the Complainant’s trademarks and the unique experience, location and fame of the Moulin Rouge cabaret, it is difficult to imagine any circumstances under which the Respondent may put the Domain Name to legitimate use that would not cause initial interest confusion”.

The Stats:

  • In 2018 there was one appeal. The outcome upheld the original No Action finding.
  • The most common industries for Complainants were Banking & Finance (9),Automotive (8), Electronics (4), Education, Fashion, and Media & Publishing (all 3).
  • The year saw cases bought by complainants from 26 different countries, led by the UK (472) followed by the US (44), with France (18) and Germany (12) swapping places from the 2017 ranking
  • Respondents were more widely dispersed, coming from 41 different countries in 2018, up from the 34 recorded in 2017. The UK continues to lead with 504 respondents, with the US second (15) and China third (8).
  • The average length of time DRS cases take from being filed to being closed decreased from 57 to around 50 days
  • Cases being resolved by a Summary Expert decision took on average 58 days, compared to 62 in 2017, whilst Full Decision cases took on average 87 days, compared to 96 in 2017.
  • The majority of cases (90%) involved .co.uk domains, 5.1% were .uk domains, 4.6% were .org.uk, and 0.1% were .me.uk
  • Court costs avoided in 2018 were over £6 million – assuming court and legal fee savings of £15k per complaint that progresses into formal dispute resolution

Eleanor Bradley, Managing Director of Registry Solutions at Nominet, says: “Our DRS is continuing to prove a useful tool for .UK customers and, importantly, is saving millions in court costs – over £6 million in 2018 and almost £180 million since the DRS was launched.  The efficient and transparent method of resolving disputes is thanks to the many experts who generously offer their time and expertise, as well as the robust processes we have in place. The decrease in time taken to resolve cases across the board year on year is testament to this.”

Nick Wenban-Smith, General Counsel at Nominet comments: “As many .co.uk domain holders will be aware, the Right of Registration that some .co.uk Registrants held over the corresponding .uk domain name ended on 25 June 2019. Currently the number of second level .uk domains involved in disputes is low in proportion to the number of those domains registered, but we have increased capacity to deal with any increase in disputes should there be any concern now we are at the end of that period.”

Notes to Editor: 

  • The figures quoted in this report sit against a context of around 12 million .UK domain names on the register at the end of 2018
  • Court costs avoided are assuming court & legal fee savings of £15,000 per complaint that progresses into formal dispute resolution
  • Nominet established the DRS in 2001 to offer an efficient, transparent method of resolving disputes relating to .UK domain names. The DRS seeks to settle disputes through mediation and, where this is not possible, through an independent expert decision.
  • To make a complaint through the DRS, you need to have rights (such as a trade mark) in a name which is the same as or similar to the domain name you are concerned about. You also need to prove that the domain name has been registered or used in a manner that has unfairly taken advantage of your rights.
  • The DRS can usually provide a quicker and cheaper resolution to disputes than going through the courts as this service is based on free, confidential mediation. In the event of deadlock, complainants can pay to appoint an independent expert from a panel to make a binding adjudication. All decisions are made public via Nominet’s website.

About Konstantinos Zournas

I studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London, UK and I am now living in Athens, Greece. I went online in 1995, started coding in 1996 and began buying domain names and creating websites in 2000. I started the OnlineDomain.com blog in 2012.

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