'.uk' to launch in June

United Kingdom

Nominet, the registry responsible for domain names in the United Kingdom, had previously announced that registration of domain names directly under the ‘.uk’ top-level domain name extension, such as ‘domain.uk’, would be made available from the summer of 2014. Nominet has recently communicated the precise launch date to be June 10 2014.

Currently, registrations are possible only at the third level, for example ‘domain.co.uk’, ‘domain.org.uk’ and ‘domain.net.uk’. The opening of new registrations directly under ‘.uk’ will not affect registrations or renewals of such third-level domain names under the existing extensions run by Nominet, for example ‘.co.uk’, ‘.org.uk’, ‘.net.uk’, ‘.me.uk’, ‘.plc.uk’ and ‘.ltd.uk’ (there are others which are not run by Nominet, such as ‘.gov.uk’ and ‘.ac.uk’). All existing domain names will continue to run as normal.

For many of the registrants of such existing third-level domain names, Nominet will automatically reserve the shorter ‘.uk’ equivalent of their current domain name for free until June 10 2019. 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 it already has, provided that it has maintained their initial registration at the third level. However, if it does not choose to register it within the five-year period, the new ‘.uk’ domain name will become available on a first-come, first-served basis at 8am on June 10 2019.

Some 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 (eg, 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’ domain name 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’ was 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. 

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 now available here.

Finally, it is useful to note that Nominet’s Dispute Resolution Service will cover shorter ‘.uk’ domain names in the same way that it covers existing third-level domain names managed by Nominet.

David Taylor and Jane Seager, Hogan Lovells LLP, Paris

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