Nominet Dispute Procedure Consultation

January 5, 2007

Nominet are rather proud of their Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) but they are looking to improve it. They say that thay are aiming to keep the service quick, simple, fair and approachable for all who use it, and to make sure that it keeps abreast of changes in the external environment. In order to achieve this, they are looking for the views of ‘consumers’.

The proposals at a glance

Trade mark law protects words which have ‘a distinctive character as a result of the use made of it’ (eg “British Gas”). Nominet propose to recognise this category of names in the DRS and to clarify that the DRS recognises rights in dictionary words which are protected by registered trade marks or goodwill. 

As part of explaining what is or is not an abusive (unfair) registration, Nominet propose to extend the examples of things that are not necessarily evidence of ‘abuse’ to include resale of domain names, sale of traffic (eg by “pay-per-click”) or having a large portfolio of domain name registrations. In addition, it proposes to clarify that the weaker the rights that the complainant has, the less likely it is that abusive registration or use will be inferred if the evidence is finely balanced.

 Nominet also has proposals on fees, although they are not fixed on change. One option is to introduce an upfront non-refundable fee (£50-100) and reduce the expert decision fee accordingly, to keep the change cash-flow neutral, and another is to introduce a system where the losing party pays for the decision. 

There are a number of other proposals to change aspects of the service including the procedure, payment, drafting, appeals, expert decisions, and abusive registrations.

 The consultation process

The consultation has three parts: an online survey, an in-depth consultation document that you can download as a pdf file or access as a web version and an outreach programme including a series of events and meetings which have now begun. The consultation period ends on 16 February 2007.

Responses will be published on the Nominet Web site and some interesting responses can be viewed there already.