After lengthy consultations and preparation, Nominet, the body responsible for administering the web space for UK domain names has made the shorter “.uk” domain name available for purchase. This means that businesses now have the option to adopt .uk names as well as or alternatively to the more familiar .co.uk, .org.uk or .me.uk domains.
The introduction follows the trend for top-level - or what are commonly seen as ‘international’ - domain names administered by ICANN, which are no longer limited to the traditional domains names, such as .com and .org. The move also brings the UK web space in line with changes made by other national registries overseas, such as in France and Germany.
For those who currently hold the other UK variations of the new domain (particularly those with a .co.uk variation), the.uk version may have already been reserved for you for a period of five years, which will expire in five years on 10 June 2019 and this can be checked using a simple search facility which can be found at www.dotuklaunch.uk.
To ensure that your online presence and intellectual property portfolio are protected, and if you have the ‘right of first refusal’, you should acquire the rights to the .uk variation of your name as soon as possible. If you fail to do so within the five year time period, the domain will then be made available to the general market and you will lose your rights of priority.
Even if a business does not intend to use the variation at all, or until perhaps its next rebrand, securing the right and maintaining it dormant can prove an invaluable investment. This is particularly the case when you consider the relatively low cost involved in acquiring a domain name, by comparison to the significantly higher costs if you become embroiled in disputes regarding ownership of such online rights or associated intellectual property rights under trade mark and apassing off laws after expiry of the five year period.
Finally, a word of warning. While we recommend that businesses protect their interests by acquiring the .uk domain, you should liaise with an online marketing expert or search engine optimisation (SEO) provider before considering transfer of content in your current website to the domain name. This is to establish the extent of any potential technical consequences in rankings within search engine results or other traffic generating facilities you might use relating to your current domain name.
For further information and advice on how we can help you manage and protect your intellectual property rights and associated assets, please get in touch with Tony Catterall, Head of Intellectual Property, on 0844 800 263 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org