Nominet saw a small drop in complaints in 2016, with 25 fewer complaints for the 12-month period than in 2015. The 703 complaints related to 785 domain names, according to their 2016 annual summary of domain name disputes brought before its Dispute Resolution Service (DRS). The disputed .uk domain names in 2016 were 0.0074% of all domain names under management (DUM), or registrations.
In the same period total registrations dropped marginally by 44,882 from 10,637,764 at the end of 2015 to 10,592,882, or 0.4219%. Interestingly, and not unexpectedly, third level .uk registrations have been shrinking (from 10,140,436 to 9,972,226) while second level registrations have been growing (from 497,328 to 620,656) in the same 12-month period.
Of the complaints, over half resulted in a domain transfer, which was the same as the previous year (53%). 2016 also saw a 10% increase in the number of summary decisions made by DRS independent Experts, who support the DRS by giving their time and professional expertise to help resolve disputes when needed.
“While only a small proportion of domain names overall – 0.0074% of the .UK register – resulted in a dispute in 2016, the DRS continues to provide an efficient and cost effective way of resolving those that do arise,” said Russell Haworth, Nominet’s Chief Executive. “In fact, we should not underestimate the value of the service as £7million could have been saved on legal fees last year alone, thanks to the efficient process in place and the many volunteer Experts who generously offer their time and expertise.”
Brands such as Facebook Inc, O2 Worldwide, Jaguar Land Rover Limited, Virgin Enterprises Limited, JD Sports Fashion Plc and Anne Summers Ltd used the DRS in 2016.
Other users of the service included Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, The National Council For Voluntary Organisations, the National Council For The Training Of Journalists, Wembley Primary School and PAGE, a campaign against gravel extraction in South Oxfordshire.
Nominet provided a number of statistics on the 2016 disputes:
- In 2016 there were 5 appeals, with 4 original decisions being upheld. One appeal overturned a No Action decision to a Transfer decision.
- The most common industries were automotive and Internet (14 each); retail (12); software and sports (7 and 6 respectively).
- The year saw cases brought by complainants from 28 different countries, led by the UK (570) followed by the US (46), France (13) and Germany (10). Respondents were widely dispersed, coming from 35 different countries. Again, the UK leads with 570 respondents, with the US second (22) and St Kitts and Nevis third (16).
- Mediated cases by Nominet took an average of 47 days to resolve in 2016, compared with 41 days in 2015, and 47 days in 2014. Cases being resolved by an Expert decision also took slightly longer to close than in 2015.
- The majority of cases (91%) involved .co.uk domain names, with 4% of cases involving a .org.uk domain. The .uk domain names, launched in June 2014, made up 4% of cases in 2016, an increase on the 3.5% in 2015 and 1.6% from 2014.
“Almost 12,000 Complaints have been made to the DRS since 2001 with more than half of these resolved between the parties directly, through mediation, or an Expert. With millions of small businesses and individuals now in possession of a domain, it’s also important to bear in mind that the DRS recognises a wider class of rights than simply trademarks,” said Nick Wenban-Smith, General Counsel at Nominet. “So, if someone has the rights in a name which is the same as or similar to a .UK domain name they are concerned about and they can provide proof that the domain name has been registered or used in a manner that has or might cause unfair detriment, then the DRS is a good first port of call to address those concerns.”