Here are some FAQs:
What is Nominet’s DRS?
Is your domain name dispute about a UK domain name, e.g., .co.uk, .uk, .org.uk? If so, you may be able to recover it under a type of arbitration procedure called the Dispute Resolution Service, also known as the “DRS”. Nominet UK, the UK internet naming authority, set this up in 2001. It’s automatically part of the contract when someone registers a .uk domain name.
What do you have to prove under the DRS?
To succeed with a Nominet UK DRS complaint, you have to prove to the DRS “Independent Expert” (i.e. adjucator):
First, that you have “rights” in a name which is identical or similar to the domain name. Different kinds of rights can qualify. Registered trade marks for example. And unregistered trade marks, also known as “common law rights”. These are based on reputation resulting from use of the name, such that it has become “distinctive” of the complainant. Though it’s not enough just to assert this. You have to provide sufficient supporting evidence. You can also rely on your personal name in some circumstances.
Second, you have to show that the domain name is an “abusive registration”. This can relate either to
- the circumstances in which the registrant registered the domain name or
- the way the registrant used it.
This is different to the UDRP (for .com and other gTLD domain names) which requires registration and use in bad faith. Nominet’s DRS policy lists non-exhaustive examples of factors which may be evidence that a domain name is (or isn’t) an abusive registration. Generally they involve some form of targetting of the rights owner. Each case will of course be different. But, whatever the circumstances, you have to provide sufficient detail and supporting documents to establish abusive registration. Otherwise the DRS case will fail.
What’s the timescale?
Typically from six to ten weeks. Plus another few weeks to implement the transfer, if granted.
Can you appeal?
Yes. Unlike most other similar domain dispute schemes, Nominet provides an option for the losing party to appeal to a panel of three independent experts. But people rarely use this. As mentioned below, it’s not cheap!
Are previous Nominet decisions relevant?
Though previous Nominet DRS decisions are not binding on a Nominet expert, they are persuasive – particularly Nominet appeal panel decisions. Familiarity with these can give a good indicator of whether a case is likely to succeed and it helps to cite previous relevant / favourable decisions in DRS submissions by either side.
What are the DRS fees?
At the time of writing, unlike most similar procedures, there are no fees to filing a DRS complaint. Once the submissions are complete, Nominet conducts a telephone mediation. If that doesn’t resolve the case, then the complainant can pay Nominet a fee of £750 plus VAT to obtain a decision by an independent expert. If there’s no response, there’s no mediation and the the complainant can opt to pay just £200 plus VAT for a “summary decision”. The appeal fee is £3,000 plus VAT, payable by the appealing party. These official fees don’t include any legal costs involved in preparing complaints / responses / appeals.
What result can you achieve?
If you file a successful Nominet DRS complainant, you can normally expect to obtain transfer of the domain name in dispute but you can’t be awarded damages or costs under this procedure.
Where can I get more information?
See our intro page to domain name disputes UK for more details.