The National Registry for all domain names ending uk, Nominet UK, has opened a two-month public consultation as part of its review of procedures for dealing with domain name disputes.
Peace move in naming row
It is anticipated that the move will result in a new dispute resolution service for the UK by this autumn.
Announcing the review, Nominet's managing director, Dr Willie Black, called for the active participation of all interested parties in the consultation process.
'As the first country-code top level domain registry to introduce a dispute resolution service in 1997, we have developed substantial expertise over the past three years,' explained Dr Black.
'We are now seeking to improve the service, drawing on our own experience and suggestions made by customers and key stakeholders.
'While the principle of first come, first served is crucial to the success of quick and efficient domain-name registration and 99.9 per cent of registrations are never challenged where there is a domain name dispute, it needs to be resolved quickly.'
Critically, Nominet proposes introducing a new two-stage test in order to substantiate whether a registration has been made in bad faith.
This new rule is intended to deal directly with the problem of cybersquatting, where a domain name is registered with the intention of disrupting another's business. Nominet proposes to retain free mediation, a key feature of its existing dispute resolution service, in which parties are encouraged to come to an agreement by means of the impartial intervention of Nominet's staff.
One-third of cases have been successfully mediated to date: the remainder have been decided by Nominet under its rules without challenge, apart from a handful that were referred to an independent legal expert for a decision.
Under the new proposals, if mediation is unsuccessful after 14 days, the case will be referred for a decision to an independent legal expert on payment of a fee of between 500-1000 by the complainant.
In the interests of greater openness and transparency, Nominet plans to publish a timetable, the outcome of all decisions, along with frequently-asked questions about disputes, model submissions and related articles and hyperlinks.
During the public consultation in February and March, Nominet will be canvassing a wide range of views, including business, consumers and other interested parties.
Full details of the proposals can be found at http://www.nominet.org.uk/drs-review.html
Contributions can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.