Can another company take my domain away?

Posted on August 23, 2011

 

Once you’ve rented your domain, you may think it’s safe for the period you’ve paid for. However, Nominet has ultimate control over who has what UK domain – and under certain circumstances, may even take your domain away from you.

Depending on the TLD (top level domain), such as a .com or .co.uk, your domain name can cost just a few pounds to register – but its worth can be so much more than that.

Your domain name is your virtual business address, the place where customers and clients come to find you online. Through web design, web development and SEO you help to build that domain name into a powerful website that will attract new customers and earn new business for your company. The domain name then takes on extra value as it’s not just worth the token registration fee that you paid for it, it becomes a valuable commodity that your business cannot do without. It becomes a website, a brand, with inbound links, content and trust from the search engines. Your domain name is invaluable to your business.

Nominet and the power to remove domains

Forgetting to renew your domain isn’t the only ways a domain name can be lost by a company; you can also lose your domain name if Nominet decrees that you shouldn’t have registered it in the first place. For example, if you register a domain name, such as a .co.uk, which is similar to that of another company and you are in the same industry then you might find yourself stripped of your domain name.

This happened recently when the student lettings website www.studentpropertyshop.com complained to Nominet about the domain name www.thestudentpropertyshop.co.uk, which was a domain name bought by a letting agent based in Leeds. The bad publicity generated by the Leeds based company, who were the subject of a protest by students, caused studentpropertyshop.com to appeal to Nominet over the domain. The result of the appeal was described by studentpropertyshop.com as:

“Nominet’s ‘Dispute Resolution Service’ commissioned a report from an independent legal expert, who concluded that “an Abusive Registration” took place by the previous owner of the domain name, who would be taking “unfair advantage” of our rights to the ‘Student Property Shop’ name; the recommendation was to the transfer the domain to us on 19th August 2011 to protect our trade mark.”

This action has resulted in the domain name thestudentpropertyshop.co.uk being transferred to the ownership of Student Property Shop, resulting in the loss of the website for the Leeds based company, and of course their email. All of the links pointing to that website, and any benefit those links had, has also been passed onto studentpropertyshop.com.

This means it is very important when you register a domain name that you not only think about the SEO benefits of the domain, but you also think about whether that name is similar to the name of an existing company within your industry. There is no point spending money on a domain, money on a website design and money on an SEO campaign, only to have your domain taken from you, leaving you back at square one.

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.
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