Nominet: Domain disputes down 17% in 2013

Disputes over domain names linked to trademarks are on the slide after Nominet saw just 674 complaints go through its famed Dispute Resolution Service [DRS] in the whole of 2013.

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The domain name registry that handles .uk saw the number of disputes filed through the DRS drop 17 per cent even though the number of registrations with Nominet increased by 2.7 per cent over the same period.

“The system continues to be a fantastic light-touch alternative to the courts in addressing these disputes, allowing the domain name system to remain fast-moving but fair, and contributing to the high level of trust in .uk websites,” stated Nick Wenban-Smith, senior legal counsel at Nominet.

To make a complaint using DRA a company must own the rights to a name similar to a domain that the complaint is being made about and a decision is made using free, confidential mediation. If there is a deadlock, complainants can pay to appoint independent legal experts from a panel to make a full or summary decision.

Of the 674 cases, 369 [54.74 per cent] saw a domain transfer with the majority of complainants from the UK with the US, Liechtenstein, France and Denmark making up the top five.

One case that captured the imagination in 2013 was the OpticalExpressRuinedMyLife.co.uk site that protested about the negative consequences of laser eye surgery. Optical Express had complained a competitor funded the site and this was something that the DRS expert panel didn’t find evidence of, thus throwing out Optical Express’ case.

Nominet expects the number of disputes to rise again in 2014 due to the number of generic Top Level Domains [gTLDs] increasing, which includes the .uk suffix that it handles.

“In a year when many new Top Level Domains are launching for the first time, brands need to recognise the value of a namespace which provides an established, robust and trusted framework for dealing with any domain disputes quickly and fairly,” Wenban-Smith added.

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Nominet added that the number of complaints represents just one tenth of a per cent of the domains on the register by the end of the year.