News / General

Intellectual Property - Domain Names

By SLAS Spokesperson

NOMINET, the registry for Internet Domain names ending "uk" has complained that solicitors are palming straightforward domain-name complaints to junior staff and failing to supervise them properly. Nominet says that a substantial number of the 350 on-line complaint forms had been invalid because they failed to address the key points of the policy or procedure or to provide any supporting evidence. Quite a number of these had been submitted by solicitors,

The "nick-name defence" has become the latest innovation in domain name registration, which is leading to many disputes. This arose in a recent case involving Nokia, the mobile phone manufacturer. The company learned that three people in London had registered the name www.nokia.me.uk. The "me.uk" is a second level domain introduced by Nominet supposed to give greater flexibility, but it may be back firing. The registrant said that Nokia was a nickname, but when Nokia did a bit of investigating it discovered that the same individuals had registered themselves as sony.me.uk, bmw.me.uk and orange.me.uk- coincidence or what?! One can have too many nick-names!

The Law Society of Scotland is embroiled in its own battle over a domain name. Mr. Tommy Butler has registered the domain www.lawscot.co.uk. Mr. Butler and Nominet have been served with a Court Order suspending the domain name until the Court has decided the question of ownership. The Society argues that Mr. Butler is passing off and as a result of setting up the site has received confidential e-mails intended for the Law Society. He claims that "lawscot" is a generic name. The Society apparently registered the trademark "lawscot" in March 2002 and applied for it in September 2001 but Mr. Butler claims this was long after the Society approached him with a view to buying the domain. Clearly the whole area of domain names is fraught with difficulty and the profession will have to get up to speed with this new aspect of intellectual property rights.

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