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Domain Names - Cybersquatters
#1
Your domain name is a valuable property. Keep track of renewals and don't let cybersquatters steal it.

According to Nominet's 2007 Domain Name Industry Report, the global domain market has seen increasing growth rates over the last five years, with the total number of domain names now growing at a rate in excess of 30 per cent per annum compared to 10 per cent in 2002. There's an active market in buying, selling and storing domain names, with regular sales exceeding £100,000 and peak values reaching more than 1 million.

Based on current renewals trends revealed in the report, in the next two years alone, over 140,000 .co.uk domains will be re-registered in less than 10 seconds after they become available. This highlights the need for businesses and individuals to prioritise renewing their registrations. Failure to do so can result in your online brand identity being snapped up by someone else. One of clients has found this out to their cost. To buy back the domain name they allowed to expire would cost them $1600.

Our report showed that 70 per cent of owners renew their domain names and a large proportion do so well ahead of time, either a month (25 per cent), or a day (14 per cent) before they're due to expire. However, 14 per cent of businesses don't renew their domain name until the day after renewal is due. Of those who didn't renew, just under four per cent did not renew.

Renewing a .uk domain name is relatively easy and it's possible to do so up to six months before its expiry date. However, if the contact information associated with the domain name is out of date, your may not receive any renewal reminders from Nominet or from us.

Online disputes Cybersquatting is a significant problem for companies with well-known, established brands. It involves registering, trafficking in or using a domain name with the explicit intent to profit from a brand owner's goodwill or trademark, by offering to sell the domain name to the brand owner at an inflated price or making money from internet traffic accidentally landing on their page.

There have been developments over the last 10 years in the type of cybersquatting activity that occurs. For example, profitable results can be yielded from typosquatting. This is when a user makes typographical errors when inputting a website address into a web browser. Websites that are common misspellings of popular sites can contain pay-per-click ads from which the typosquatter will benefit each time a user clicks.

The result is that organisations (and individuals) are faced with a choice: protect the brand
at potentially significant cost or accept the infringement. While the UK is one of the more expensive countries in which to pursue litigation, the spectre of the time and money involved in protection means that small businesses are effectively disenfranchised from the court system.

Dispute resolution services are a viable alternative. Businesses can use these services as a cost-effective, efficient method of dealing with domain name disputes. There are various
online dispute resolution policies available to UK businesses, including Nominet's Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) for .uk domain names and the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) for .com, .net and others.

These offer a quick alternative to the costly court process. For example, Nominet's procedure is founded on mediation and, if needed, an expert decision regarding the dispute. Nominet's team of mediators currently handles an estimated 13 per cent of all commercial mediations in the UK.

The success of mediation for online dispute resolution means it's possible for individuals and businesses to protect themselves from potential cyber threats cost-effectively. In addition, the lessons we've learned by administering the DRS are now being used in alternative dispute resolution services throughout our organisation and in providing advice to others worldwide:
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