Consultation period for reserved short '.uk' domain names opened

United Kingdom
Nominet, the registry for '.uk' domain names, has announced its plans to release two-letter, one-character and other reserved '.uk' domain names. This follows recommendations put forward by Nominet's Policy Advisory Body (PAB) and the PAB sub-committee agreeing to the principles of the proposal. This also follows the current trend to release one and two-character domain names by a number of registries (see, eg, "One and two-character domain names become available" and "One and two-character '.biz' domain names released").
 
A consultation period was subsequently opened on March 8 2010 to allow the public to voice its opinion on the release of these domain names, and will remain open until June 8 2010. During this time, feedback can be submitted to Nominet either by completing an online survey or by emailing Nominet.
 
Currently, the Nominet rules do not allow the registration of the following '.uk' domain names:
  • third-level domain names consisting of only one character (eg, 'a.co.uk' or '1.org.uk');
  • two-letter domain names under the extensions '.co.uk', '.org.uk', '.me.uk' and '.net.uk' (eg, 'aa.co.uk'). However, one-letter, one-number domain names, as well as two-number domain names, are accepted (eg, 'a1.co.uk' or '11.me.uk');
  • domain names under '.co.uk', '.org.uk', '.me.uk' and '.net.uk' that are identical to existing '.uk' second-level domains (eg, 'gov.org.uk' or 'nhs.net.uk'); and
  • domain names under '.co.uk', '.org.uk', '.me.uk' and '.net.uk' that are identical to existing top-level domains (eg, 'com.co.uk', 'edu.org.uk').
The PAB recommended the release of all the above domain names, except for the domain names identical to existing '.uk' second-level domains. As the PAB could not reach consensus on this point, it suggested that these domain names should be the subject of a further consultation. In addition, the release of 'com', 'net' and 'org' under '.co.uk' could be excluded because of technical issues.
 
The PAB recommended a two-phase sunrise mechanism for the release of the domain names, with the first phase being open to holders of registered trademarks affording protection in the United Kingdom and matching the domain names applied for. As for most sunrise periods, a cut off date will be set for qualifying rights.
 
The second phase of the sunrise would be open to holders of unregistered rights.
 
With regard to how to allocate domain names where there are two or more qualifying rights holders, the PAB was unable to come to a unanimous decision, although a lottery, landrush and auction were proposed for consideration.
 
Validation agents will be designated in order to check the eligibility of the legal rights claimed by the domain name applicants during the sunrise phases, which will incur a fee payable by the applicants. Nominet has also announced that any profits generated by auctions will be passed to Nominet Trust, a charitable organization established by Nominet. 
 
David Taylor, Lovells LLP, Paris

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