Following our recent article, Nominet has announced a launch date of 10 June 2014 for the new form of ".uk" domain name address.
What is going to happen?
Businesses and individuals will be able to register a shorter ".uk" domain (e.g. "Ashfords.uk") for use alongside existing Nominet registered domains (including, .co.uk, .org.uk, .me.uk, .net.uk, .plc.uk, .ltd.uk and .sch.uk)(the ".uk family").
For .uk family domains (other than .co.uk domains) that were registered before 29 October 2013 (the "cut off date"), registrants will be offered the equivalent .uk domain of their existing domain automatically and registrants will have five years (i.e. until 10 June 2019) to decide whether or not they wish to register the .uk domain in addition to, or instead of, the domain(s) they have already registered.
For .co.uk domains that were registered before 10 June 2014, registrants will be offered the equivalent .uk domain of their existing domain automatically and registrants will have the same five year period as above to decide whether the wish to register the .uk domain in addition to, or instead of, the domain(s) they have already registered.
For new registrations after 29 October 2013 (in respect of .uk family domains) and for new registrations after 10 June 2013 (for .co.uk domains only), the registrants will not automatically be offered the new .uk domains. After these dates, the new .uk domains will therefore be available for anyone to register.
If an existing registrant notifies Nominet that it does not wish not to register the new .uk domain offered to it, then the .uk domain will become available for someone else to register.
There may be more than one .uk family domain which was registered before the cut off date. For example newcar.co.uk and newcar.net.uk may have different registrants. Therefore, Nominet has set up the rights lookup tool to allow you to check who will have the automatic right to register the new .uk registration.
Why is this happening?
Nominet has identified two key benefits:
- the new shorter, snappier .uk domain focuses attention directly on the brand at the centre of the domain; and
- an expanded namespace allows new opportunities to create an online identity and to build an online business, while signalling a clear connection with the UK.
The new namespaces will be snapped up quickly, as a result of the automatic reservation system. Existing registrants may register the .uk domain and set up an "auto-divert" to their existing .com or .co.uk website. The benefit of having an expanded namespace is therefore reduced.
While, the automatic reservation system will ensure that immediate instances of cyber-squatting will be kept to a minimum, this is not the case for new registrations after 10 June 2014. This is because new registrants of .co.uk domains after this date will not be entitled to the equivalent .uk domain automatically.
Therefore, fledgling brands wishing to build their reputation in the UK should ensure that they register the .uk domain as well as the .co.uk domain, to prevent cyber-squatting and also dilution of the reputation they are attempting to build.
If you are setting up a new business, you should seek legal advice on the steps you can take to reduce the risk of being accused by third parties of cyber-squatting, passing off and/or trade mark infringement. Ashfords'' Intellectual Property Team can help you with this.