Domain Names - Latest Legal News

A recent case in the Royal Courts of Justice has upheld the current 'first-come, first-served' domain name policy used by Nominet UK, the firm which administers the and name space (among others).

The ruling on 22nd May was in a case involving the domain name '', originally registered by Pearson Professional Ltd, who trade as Pitman Publishing. The domain name was mistakenly re-allocated to Pitman Training and PTC Oxford Ltd approximately six weeks after its initial registration, and PTC began to use it.

When Pearson moved to set up their Web site, later in 1996, they realised that they no longer controlled the name, and requested Nominet UK to return it to them under the first-come, first-served policy. Nominet UK did so, thereby cutting off PTC's email; PTC brought this case after obtaining a temporary injunction to restore their email while the case was being heard.

Judge Scott, presiding, affirmed that the first-come, first-served policy used by Nominet UK was a valid policy, and that Pearson Professional did not commit an unlawful act by requesting that Nominet UK return the name.

The case differed from the case, decided in 1996, in that Harrods were looking to protect their trademark on their name, whereas trademark law was not involved in this case. Also, the Harrods case involved a domain name in the .com domain, administered by Network Systems for InterNIC in the US, whose policies are not an exact match for those of Nominet UK. Finally - although potentially least important - both parties in the Pitman case traded under the name in contention, while in the Harrods case the domain name had been registered purely as a speculative move.

More details regarding the Pitman case can be found at: [Unfortunately this article has now expired. However, a copy of the full text of the judgment in this case can be found on Nominet UK's Web site at]