'.uk' launch day sees over 50,000 domain names registrations

United Kingdom

Nominet, the organisation responsible for operating the ‘.uk’ country-code top-level domain, previously announced that the registration of domain names directly under ‘.uk’ would launch on June 10 2014. The launch day saw over 50,000 domain names registered within the first 24 hours, making the launch of ‘.uk’ one of the fastest-selling new domain name releases on record.

Eleanor Bradley, chief operating officer at Nominet, commented:

“Consumers and brands alike are showing their trust in ‘.uk’ domains, with our registration rates climbing to 10 times the typical daily rate. We’re thrilled with the response, which shows the excitement people feel about the shorter, sharper domain within the trusted ‘.uk’ namespace.”

Amongst the first domain names registered directly under ‘.uk’ were ‘sainsburys.uk’, ‘bentley.uk’ and ‘burberry.uk’. The domain name ‘stephenfry.uk’ was also registered by the well-known British comedian and actor Stephen Fry. On his website ‘www.stephenfry.uk, Mr Fry commented: "All those hours I’ve spent, if you add them up, typing dot co dot uk, an extra three keystrokes that I could well have done without. Well they’re over. ‘.uk’ is finally here."

The vast majority of holders of domain names at the third level, that is to say under ‘.co.uk’, ‘.org.uk’, ‘.me.uk’, ‘.net.uk’, ‘.ltd.uk’ or ‘.plc.uk’, have until 07:59 on June 10 2019 to reserve the equivalent domain name under ‘.uk’, as long as they were registered prior to 08:00 on June 10 2014.

At any point during this five-year reservation period, a registrant can decide to register the new ‘.uk’ domain name instead of, or in addition to, the third-level domain name they already have, provided that they have maintained their initial registration at the third level. However, if they do not choose to register it within the five-year period, it will become available on a first-come, first-served basis at 08:00 on June 10 2019.

A few registrants will not be eligible for the equivalent ‘.uk’ domain name because the same string is registered to two or more people under different third levels (for example, one person may own ‘domain.co.uk’ and another ‘domain.org.uk’). In these circumstances, the registrant of the ‘.co.uk’ domain name will be eligible for the same string directly under ‘.uk’, and if no ‘.co.uk’ domain name has been registered, then the ‘.org.uk’ holder will be offered the ‘.uk’ equivalent.  

However, this system will apply only to third-level domain names registered on or before October 28 2013. Only third-level domain names registered after this date (but before June 10 2014) under ‘.co.uk’ will automatically be allocated the corresponding ‘.uk’ domain name, and domains registered under non-‘.co.uk’ extensions will not be granted any rights. This is the case unless there is a ‘clash’ with a domain name registered on or before October 28 2013, in which case the prior system will apply. This means for example that, if ‘domain.co.uk’ is registered after October 28 2013 but a corresponding ‘.org.uk’ domain name was registered before the cut-off date, then the registrant of the ‘.org.uk’ domain name will be allocated the string directly under ‘.uk’. After June 10 2014, new registrations at the third level will not grant registrants any automatic right to register the same string directly under ‘.uk’.

Clearly the rules are quite complex and, consequently, Nominet has created an online ‘Rights lookup’ tool that shows whether a domain name (whether it currently exists or not) will get the right to the ‘.uk’ equivalent. This online tool is available here.

Moreover, Nominet has recently published on its website new rules to include second-level domain registrations, which will come into effect on June 10 2014 and are available here.

David Taylor and Sean Kelly, Hogan Lovells LLP, Paris

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