10 February 2014

.uk domain names are here. Are you first in line?

From this summer Nominet, the UK’s domain registry, is releasing top level domain names to purchase for the first time. What does this all mean? Well, from summer, you could obtain the domain “yoursite.uk”, in addition to “yourwebsite.co.uk”.

How do I get first priority over a .uk domain?

Typically, when new domain extensions are released, trade mark owners get the right of first refusal over a domain name. .uk will be different – if you own a current .co.uk domain name you will get the right of first refusal for the new .uk domain, as long as you registered your domain name before 28th October 2013.

In the next few weeks, Nominet will be contacting all .co.uk domain owners asking whether they want to buy their .uk domain name. If you don’t hear from Nominet, you should get in contact with your web hosting provider or web developer who can help you with your registration.

Simply put however, if you own a .co.uk domain now, the .uk domain will automatically be reserved for you, for free, until June 2019 – provided you stay on top of the renewal of the .co.uk.

.co.uk vs. .org.uk – who wins?

If there are multiple users who own a sub level UK domain name (such as two different organisations owning mysite.co.uk and mysite.org.uk), the owner of the .co.uk address will be contacted first and will have first refusal.

Money for old rope?

Many critics of the move have called the decision to release top level UK domain names a money making exercise, but the fact is, owning a .uk domain name will be just as cheap as a .co.uk or .org.uk domain name. The price for the new domains will start at just £3.50 per year for single year registrations and £2.50 per year for multi-year registrations.

What to do now?

The official launch date for .uk domain names in on 10th June 2014. For more information on the roll out, please see http://www.dotuklaunch.co.uk/dates-and-definitions.

A good domain name can be a valuable business asset. The best names are short, easy to spell, instantly recognisable and easy to remember.

If you already have other domains, a .uk registration could be an effective string to your bow and if you are a start up, could help you with that all important marketing splash.

The risks of doing nothing?

If competitors of your business own (for example) the .ltd.uk domain and you, as owner of a .co.uk domain refuse to buy the new .uk extension, your competitor could pick up a valuable top level UK domain name from under your nose.

Our recommendation: as defensive registrations go, if you don’t plan on running a website through the .uk domain, less than £5 a year to stop a competitor running it is well worth considering.

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About the Author
Robert Capper, Partner, Head of Commercial Team and Sectors
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