This story is brought to you by the letter H.
Domain name financing firm Domain Capital has sucessfully defended (pdf) its domain names H.co.uk and H.uk in a cybersquatting dispute.
.UK manager Nominet auctioned off many valuable one letter domains in 2011 and a Domain Capital Client bought H.co.uk in the auction for £16,000. The buyer later defaulted and Domain Capital took over the domain.
The cybersquatting complaint was filed by a UK company called H Limited. The company seems to believe it is the only company in the UK that could legitimately use the domain.
This runs contrary to what the Complainant stated in correspondence with the Respondent in 2015, when the Complainant’s representative proposed splitting the .CO.UK and .UK domain names among different purchasers, stating, “I can imagine a number of individuals to whom ‘H.UK’ would have the numerical value you describe”.
Attorney John Berryhill, who represented Domain Capital, noted that the Complainant’s imagination has become much more limited in the intervening several years.
(The Complainant replied to this assertion with an explanation I don’t really understand.)
The Nominet panelist noted:
[T]he Complainant cannot claim all-encompassing rights in the letter H on the basis of the evidence put forth (and indeed it is highly unlikely that any brand owner could ever claim exclusive rights in a single letter of the alphabet, even a huge conglomerate), and the Respondent certainly does have a reasonable justification for having registered the Domain Names, namely resale.
Trading in domain names can be lawful, and indeed there is a thriving domain name aftermarket. What is prohibited is attempting to profit from another’s goodwill and reputation in a name and, as explained above, the shorter that name, the more difficult it is to convincingly evidence abuse. In the case at hand, the letter H could relate to just about anything, hence its value when used as a .CO.UK or a .UK domain name.
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Author: Andrew Allemann