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10|29|2012 07:25 am EDT

Speaking out against the Nominet proposed release of second level .UK domains

by Frank Michlick in Categories: ccTLDs

After releasing single and two letter .co.uk domain names, Nominet, the operator of the .UK ccTLD is currently running a consultation on a release of domains under the second level, i.e. example.uk.On his site MyDomainNames.co.uk domain industry veteran Edwin Hayward from Memorable Domains details why he opposes the proposed procedure for release of those domains with a 22-page document (PDF).
Here’s a short summary of his most important points from his website:
  • Most businesses use .co.uk, and 93% of UK names are .co.uk
  • […] these [second level] names will not be offered to the owners of .co.uk (e.g. the BBC would not automatically get BBC.uk)
  • Instead priority will be given to trademark holders. Sounds fair to you? Read here why this is a bad idea.
  • Existing domain owners will have to prove that they are entitled to the matching .uk domain name, or buy it at auction (if it hasn’t already been taken by a trademark holder)
  • This will cause uncertainty and confusion, and risks damaging trust in .co.uk and hurting UK businesses
  • [Due to the higher proposed annual registration fees] the direct cost to UK businesses will be at least £50,000,000 per year, and associated adjustment costs could run to £billions. This estimate does not account for auction income from domain names that several parties are interested in.
  • Other countries went about the same process quite differently. In every previous case, existing domain owners were given priority ahead of other interests.

If Nominet still decides to go ahead with the release of second level domains, Hawyward is proposing a process (“Proposal for the Equitable Allocation of .uk Domain Names” as of page 8 (PDF)) where the existing registrants of the .co.uk equivalent of the names get priority in a sunrise procedure for registering the .uk counter part.

The phases of the counterproposal are:

  1. Domain Owner Sunrise (60-90 days): Sunrise phase for existing domain owners, also taking trademarks (from current domain owners) into account
  2. Trademark Sunrise (120 days): Sunrise period for trademark owners without existing domains.
  3. Landrush (60 days application + 30 day auction): Expression of interest available to everyone
  4. General Availability (first come first served): Domains available to everyone, normal registration fees
The proposal is backed by a lot of underlying background data, including a comparison how similar launches were handled in other ccTLDs.

What do you think, who should get priority rights for the release of .UK names? Should they be released at all? What do you think of Edwin’s proposal?

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