call as Nominet fail to engage its Stakeholders

Click to see our response (pages 10-15 contain most of our contribution)

The Nominet consultation closed sometime yesterday either at “close of business” or maybe around midnight when we guess their Online Form by Survey Gizmo stopped accepting inputs. Their business hours cease at 6pm and by 6.04pm we had received an automated email from their .uk Policy Secretariat saying it was all over! Whatever! We sense sighs of relief, all round, at their HQ in Oxford!

They did put up a final reminder yesterday on their website but it had no links to any of the differing  ways to respond and whilst the first sentence was in the present tense by the third it was all history “.. this process has been very helpful ….” It did update the responses received figure from 650 on 18 December saying that they had now “…..received more than 850 formal responses” so unlike their new domain registrations over the holiday season (which tend to collapse) the response rate actually improved!

BUT at  0.0083% of their principal stakeholders (their 10,276,759 domain registrants) it is numerically pitiful and gives them no mandate for change irrespective of the responses content.

The executives remit from the Board was “ … that as many stakeholder views as possible be gathered in order to properly inform any decision.”  We don’t believe that reasonable efforts have been made by them, in particular in that:

  1. They did not contact directly all registrants (their principal stakeholders) to inform them of the consultation using the contact details available to them1
  2. The wider members of the Internet Community (UK internet users) of whom there are over 40 million were not informed of the consultation using either online or mainstream media advertising campaigns.

This is the main thrust of our response to the consultation (pdf). In the pdf we’ve used Nominet’s (slightly faded) purple to indicate their content and traditional black for our responses!. We have done a little redaction and added a date in the About You section. Pages 10-15 contain most of our response. We apologise for its general inelegance and any inadvertent errors or omissions but, we maintain, this is due to the rather cumbersome methodology used by Nominet in gathering their responses. There was a horrendous amount of copying involved!

In addition to the above points we are also vehemently opposed to Registered Trademark holders having any prior rights over existing domain registrants and believe if ANY .uk issue takes place it should only go to existing domain name registrants.

We thought describing the Nominet phraseology  “Domain names registered in the third level may constitute an unregistered right” as oxymoronic was particularly appropriate and considered adding something about an omnishambolic process but decided that was a step too far!

If any other respondent out there would like a platform to publish their full response (with minimalist About You only redaction) then subject to our review we would be happy to do that with a brief (200-300 words max say) summary. We will also keep an eye out for other published responses to link to.

Use the Contact form, Comments facility or DM us on twitter if you would like to follow this up.

We can, already, boast that we have published over 0.1% of all the responses!

1 We also just picked up this little snippet from an old release concerning the Short Domain consultation Nominet undertook back in 2010 prior to an issue relating to a little over 2,800 short domains.  “Nominet also wrote to the holders of approximately 20,000 trademarks corresponding to the character sets potentially subject to release ……” So they contacted directly 20,000 POTENTIAL stakeholders as part of that consultation but not the ACTUAL 10,276,759 stakeholders this go round. hmmmmmmm

A further point on the non uniqueness of registered trademarks can now be derived from the short domains release. We calculate from our information that in the short domain release there were 727 names (ie strings) such as 1-9 a, b, c etc so on average per name/string there were over 27 registered trademarks. This is one of the reasons we vehemently oppose, and perhaps goes some way to explaining Nominet’s preference for, giving registered trademark holders prior rights!


Alex Bligh

Andrews & Arnold Ltd

BCS The Chartered Institute for IT

CHIS children’s charities’ coalition on internet safety

ICO Information Commissioners Office

Open Source Consortium

Open Rights Group

Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP)

Stephen Wilde

The Internet Society (ISOC)

UCISA Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association


  1. Don’t worry all too much about the trademark holders. To begin with, it’s only eligible for European trademark holders that have been active and they opted for the fairest release mechanism possible. This will surely be helpful for the UK Internet space, when less ‘domain speculators’ buy domains for resell purpose.

    I’d be thrilled to see the last major country in Europe getting 2nd level domains. Not a second too late..

    • admin says:

      Hi Marcus It’s not a case of worrying it’s as we have, pointed out here and elsewhere, a major concern of ours that the Nominet proposals if implemented could harm a large number of, particularly small, UK businesses.

      Unlike, domain names, registered trademarks are not unique and therefore any offer to them is guaranteed to create competing claims. In the 2011 short domain release Nominet wrote to 20,000 registered trademark holders who had identical marks of one form or another relating to the 727 character sets/strings. That’s a 27/1 ratio.

      Businesses have both invested & developed their intellectual property assets and Nominets proposal penalise rather than reward them for this.

      You mention just Eu trademarks, of course it includes the UK ones as well

      As far as use is concerned it’s the historic use of the registered trademark that qualifies an applicant as being eligible rather than necessarily their own use of it in a business. So as we discovered speculative acquisitions of trademarks can & do take place and result in successful applications. We identified more than 5% of the initial issue of uncontested names in the previous (short domain names) issue which were of this nature.

      It seems a no brainer to us that domains with identical names should be offered solely to the existing registrants if a .uk release is to take place.

      Looks like we may have to agree to disagree on this one!

  2. Stephen says:

    It is not simply EU and UK, it is worldwide Trademark holders who have reciprocal rights with the Uk (which is most of the developed world). According to Nominet USA, Canada and Australia trademark holders to name but a few, will be eligible in the first round of auctions for the .uk under the current proposal.

    • admin says:

      The “words” in the Nominet consultation are ” …. holders of registered trademarks enforceable and in use in the UK ….”
      We are not Trademark law experts but would have thought this would restrict it to to those on the IPO & EU registers. Unfortunately Nominet no longer have the full issue rules and details relating to the short domains release in 2011 up on their site or we could have checked that. Our memory was that it was just the IPO & EU then but we could be wrong.

      Having said that if you are right it gives us even greater cause for concern.

  3. Nigel says:

    Hi – thanks for all the useful info. I was particularly interested in the info that Nominet wrote to 20,000 trademarks about the short domain auction. I’ve been in correspondence with nominet (and others) about their decision to not inform any existing registrants about the launch of As you know Nominet have said they didn’t want to be seen as ‘spamming’ people yet we now know they wen’t out of their way to contact these 20,000. No doubt to cause an auction frenzy! Is there any link to the old press release? Can we read the full text of the release anywhere? I’ve looked on the nom-announce archive and I can’t see it there. Thanks and keep up the good work. I don’t know if you post on the acorndomains forum but they’re very interested in this type of information.

    Kind regards,

    • admin says:

      Hi – The 20,000 quote comes from Nominet’s “Summary and Analysis of Reserved Short Domains Consultation Responses” issued by them back in 2010.
      Stephen above has a copy which hopefully will be circulated appropriately!

  4. Nigel says:

    Thanks for that – I can now see that link on the nom-announce (or should we now call it the non-announce site!). I see the full report link now goes to a ‘page not found’ message – not the sort of info nominet would want us to see. Well done in finding that – I’m sure Stephen will put it to good use.

  5. Nigel says:

    Thanks – you did well to find that snippet though. Nominet might say you can request pre 2012 releases but certainly makes it much harder searching for information i.e. you don’t know which releases have got important info like that.

    • admin says:

      We couldn’t disagree!

      One of our main complaints was their discontinuance of publication of the detailed monthly registration figures on a regular and timely basis on the introduction of their revised website. A reason proffered was that it historically had very few hits each month!

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