Would the real Mr Nokia please stand up?

United Kingdom

Nominet, the '.uk' administrator, has published its decision in Nokia Corporation v Saeed Mahmood, Naqi Jawad and Taqi Jawad, the first decision under its Dispute Resolution Service relating to the new '.me.uk' domain, which was introduced in January 2002 as a domain space for use by individuals (see It's all '.me, .me, .me' on the Web).

The respondents had registered the domain name 'nokia.me.uk' on the same day that '.me.uk' was introduced. They claimed that one of them was called 'Nokia' as a nickname. The complainant argued that this was an abusive registration under the terms of the Dispute Resolution Policy. It claimed that the respondents must have had the Nokia brand in mind when they registered the domain name and intended to take financial advantage of the famous trademark.

The respondents' defence was undermined when Nokia produced evidence of their other registrations for 'vodafone.me.uk', 'orange.me.uk', 'virgin.me.uk', 'bmw.me.uk', 'nissan.me.uk' and 'sony.me.uk'. The panellist stated:

"As Lady Bracknell might have put it, to have registered one domain name corresponding to the brand name of a major mobile telecommunications company may be regarded as a misfortune; to register two looks like carelessness; to register four - plus the trademarks of two prominent automobile companies and a major electronics company - looks very much like abusive registration."

The panellist ruled that having regard to this pattern of registration and the fact that the respondents had attempted to sell the domain name to the complainant, this was clearly a case of abusive registration.

The panellist went on to order that the domain name be transferred to the complainant. Such a transfer from an individual to a corporation does not sit well with the stated rationale for the new domain and places the complainant in an awkward position. Although the governing rules for the '.me.uk' domain allow any entity to register a domain name, the rules clearly state that the regime is primarily intended for natural persons. Rule 7 states that "there shall [...] be a sufficient demonstration of an abusive registration if the registrant is not a natural person" and cannot show the name was registered with a natural person's permission.

Under this rule, it is arguable that the complainant itself became an abusive registrant in wresting the 'nokia.me.uk' domain name from the respondents. On this basis, it may only be a matter of time before a genuine Mr Nokia steps up to claim the domain name for himself.

David Reed, Lovells, London

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