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Nominet throws out US corp's attempt to seize Brit domain names

And the US/UK trade wars begins....

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Did anyone else immediately expect something about hotels?

I wasn't thinking lubricants - though perhaps you might want them when staying at a Trust House Forte establishment. To keep your bicycle functioning well, of course...

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Re: Did anyone else immediately expect something about hotels?

Well, now you mention, whatever happened to Trust House Forte ?

It's a sobering reflection on my advancing years, but I'm not of an age where I have to ask - tentatively - is Rocco Forte still with us ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Did anyone else immediately expect something about hotels?

"[...] - is Rocco Forte still with us ?"

Apparently so - no obvious obituary.

After many mergers and de-mergers the Forte business name is back with the family's Rocco Forte Hotels.

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Re: Did anyone else immediately expect something about hotels?

"I wasn't thinking lubricants "

Me neither. Like you, hotels was the first thing to come to mind on seeing that domain name.

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Re: Did anyone else immediately expect something about hotels?

Yes, I also thought of hotels.

The main part of that business is now known as Travelodge. One of the subsequent owners of Travelodge returned the Forte trademark to Sir Rocco Forte's family, and they set up a new, more upmarket hotel business using it.

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Re: Did anyone else immediately expect something about hotels?

I thought software for some reason.

Turns out there's a few fortes out there - from music notation to structural engineering/load calculations and even an old usenet/email client!

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Re: Did anyone else immediately expect something about hotels?

Like you, hotels was the first thing to come to mind on seeing that domain name.

For me it was motorway services.

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Re: Did anyone else immediately expect something about hotels?

Same company as the hotel group.

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Re: Did anyone else immediately expect something about hotels?

In my (Northern Irish) youth, Forte meant ice cream.

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Re: Did anyone else immediately expect something about hotels?

Actually the Forte lubricants and additives do a good job - a can of fuel additive before the MoT cleans out some of the gum and crap making a pass more likely especially as most modern fuels are contaminated with rape oil or ethanol.

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Anonymous Coward

Emperor Nero wants to sue as Forte is a derivative work of Fortis, a complaint has now been filed in Texas. SPQR vs Fortis, looking for 10,000,000 denarii in damages.

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Anonymous Coward

Fortis ? Or Ageas ?

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Which is €21.52, not really worth worrying about.

20 denarii = 1 sesterci

12 sesterci = 1 lire

1936.27 lire = 1 €

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@katrinab

Yeah, but now add statutory court interest, at 8% over the base rate. I don't know the base rate history, but if we discount it to zero, that 8% alone gives us a multiplier of 7 * 10^66 over two millennia.

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Anonymous Coward

Torn...

Whilst I don't like heavy handed litigation techniques, I also hate the obvious domainsquatters.

They may have the "right" to the name they own, and as such I'm glad they won, I guess... but it does leave a sour taste in my mouth...

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Re: Torn...

The worst domainsquatters are Tucows registering loads of surnames. It really grinds my goat.

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Re: Tucows ... really grinds my goat.

Well, you certainly don't mince your words.

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Re: Torn...

I bought a domain to use for my email many years ago and it's named vaguely after my football team. I bought the .com version as the name was quite long and I preferred the .com version. Someone subsequently set up a business in the USA with the same name. It's a bricks and mortar store and they went with the .net version which I don't have a problem with. Sadly they didn't contact me with a large sum for my .com one but that's hardly surprising as it's a very small mom and pop business in the Midwest. I was alerted to their presence when several emails arrived addressed to people I didn't know.

The people who registered BAA.COM and ran a sheep related website there were somewhat legendary. I don't know what the legal position was but British Airports Authority (now Heathrow Airports limited) eventually ended up with it.

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Tucows One Goat?

Doesn't bear thinking about... :-/

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Re: Tucows One Goat?

and a big naan, all the salad, no onion, garlic sauce.

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Re: Torn...

An Israeli guy just lost Nissan.com to the car company formerly known as Datsun.

His argument that he had registered it in 1994, that it was his family surname (and probably had been since the C6 BCE) and was the name of a Hebrew month - didn't work with the court.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Tucows One Goat?

How did Tucows survive the Internet bubble ???

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Re: Tucows One Goat?

Mmm, cheese.

(Icon for something to accompany it).

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Re: Torn...

Nissan.com still points to his site. It seems he both won the lawsuit and got awarded damages.

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Coat

Another action...

...Successfully forte to the bITW end

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All losers here ...

This is silly. THF may have had a case as the association was so strong. But Forte Lubricants - no chance. They may have had a better chance against MarkMonitor (fortelubricants.co.uk & com).

It should have been where the haggling between the two end up. A domain squatter (yes, they shouldn't exist) but they do want to sell and ITW wants to buy. Clearly £20k is rather heavy for that type of domain now THF is out of the way. a decent broker should have found an acceptable rather lower price playing Successful off against MarkMonitor for the business. ITW appeared to be willing to pay something (=>£1,000) and the unsuccessful legal action must have cost rather more.

Not all losers. The lawyers who gave bad advice were probably the winners.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: All losers here ...

"A domain squatter (yes, they shouldn't exist) ... "

It's not that simple - you have a perception of what you consider a squatter but finding the dividing line between that and legitimate reasons to hold but not use a name is far from simple. Many organisations have legitimate reasons to buy but not use a name. Examples include as a defensive measure for name variants (e.g. amazon have amaz0n.com) or to cover trade marks - including ones not in current use because a few quid a year is cheaper than getting a lawyer when some low-life uses the name in a way that damages your interests.

"Clearly £20k is rather heavy for that type of domain ..."

The value of a name is calculated on numerous factors. For example short names and nouns are at a premium - forte.co.uk ticks both boxes and IMHO £20k is not unreasonable. By way of comparison I heard that cruises.co.uk changed hands for over £500k.

There are problems with issues around name ownership, one is around names involving dictionary words and nouns. I believe virgin.co.uk was seized from the original registrant by Branson's virgin group and I believe Easyjet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has been known to get lawyered up if a name includes the word easy - if you like getting letters from lawyers register easyvirgin.co.uk

I don't think Branson/Stelios should be allowed any special right over those dictionary words UNLESS they are being USED in a manner detrimental to their existing businesses.

Who might have the exclusive and legitimate right to say, screwdriver.com or (or .co.uk)? A tool manufacturer, retailer or a cocktail bar. Should the decision be based on who's got the deepest pockets and best lawyers? I'd prefer it to be the first to be smart enough to buy it. If you want the name then the questions are: How much is it worth to you? How much is it worth to the current owner? If the latter is too high then is there room to negotiate? If not, find an alternative like screwdriversales.com

After the lawyers the next bad guys in the situation are the domain name registrars/registries. Why? For manufacturing large numbers of new TLDs that generate revenue for them and very questionable value for the buyer. They just serve to confuse the address space (and if I bought ibm.school I'd expect a lawyers letter anyway). For regarding screw-driver.com and screwdriver.com as separate entities and in UK for inventing the bare .uk name such that if I have screwdriver.co.uk I now have to pay again to protect my rights by buying screwdriver.uk

You may have concluded that I'm being defensive because I'm a squatter. I don't think I am but I do have a short proper noun based name used by my business until a few years ago, I've rejected some offers (above £20k) because I may use it again but I guess there's a price at which I'd let it go. In my position would you just let it lapse?

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Anonymous Coward

I fucking hate domain squatters

Fucking parasites they are.

The rules can and should be amended, even at the registrar level, to stop domain name hoarding and especially automated re-registrations on expiry.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I fucking hate domain squatters

The obvious answer is to disallow reselling or promoting the same, that being said just because you got the .com shouldn't mean you get every other domain, it should always have been first come first served

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Re: I fucking hate domain squatters

automatic re-registrations on expiry are OK - if they're by the original holder.

It's pretty nasty however, if someone else auto registers your domain because you miss an email or two. Especially if they charge £1000s to get it back.

or is that what you meant?

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MJI
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Re: I fucking hate domain squatters

And they complained when they started receiving gigabytes of crap from people knowing the rightful owners.

Email service had dumped their renewal into spam, cyber squatter got more crap emailed to them than they could handle.

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Forte Lubricants wasn't what I was thinking when I read forte.co.uk and forte.uk.

Forte is a dictionary word so i'm not sure how it can relate to their trademark. I think Nominet made the right decision here.

which also dismissed ITW's complaint that Successful went on to register forte.uk after the complaints about the .co.uk domain had been received.

Even if they registered forte.uk after the complaints for co.uk they had the business sense to do it so fair play.

The forte.co.uk domain was first registered in 2004 "in an automated fashion... simply because it became available"

The wayback machine seems to say the same thing. There was a software company with the site in 1996 until earlier 20001, then nothing until 2004 when it was picked up by IMO.

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Back in 20001?

I must have had a longer lunch than usual today then... yikes!

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Re: Back in 20001?

Time is an illusion. Lunchtimes doubly so.

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Anonymous Coward

> Even if they registered forte.uk after the complaints for co.uk they had the business sense to do it so fair play.

Seems more like they were operating in bad faith, purposely registering the domain solely to block it from someone with a real use for it.

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Re: Back in 20001?

Good siesta. One of your[1] culture's more admirable practices that has sadly not been exported with the success of your cuisine or your arts.

[1] Judging by name alone.

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Anonymous Coward

Seems more like they were operating in bad faith, purposely registering the domain solely to block it from someone with a real use for it.

Bear in mind that .uk domains are still in the 5 year reservation stage - if you own (eg) example.co.uk then only you can register example.uk. If anyone else tries then the registration will fail. IIRC there's something about the holder of the .co.uk domain being able to authorise the .uk domain to be registered to someone else - but I doubt that ever happens as either they won't care and won't respond to the emails, or they'll be tipped off by the request and register it themselves.

What is particularly annoying is that when they (Nominet) were discussing the introduction of .uk domains, they said that holders of other .uk domains (eg example.org.uk) would also get preferential rights - which turned out to be complete BS. A relative has a .org.uk domain, but as the same first bit is also registered as a .co.uk then my relative cannot register the .uk version. It seems that the only way to get it is to wait until the 5 year period is up and then join in the free for all for the .uk domain if the holder of the .co.uk still hasn't registered it (as they haven't yet).

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Anonymous Coward

Spending $40,000 on Lawyers Rather Than $40,000 to Buy the Stupid Domain

That's the Chicago Way for you.

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Re: Spending $40,000 on Lawyers Rather Than $40,000 to Buy the Stupid Domain

Sometimes when you gamble, you loose

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Re: Spending $40,000 on Lawyers Rather Than $40,000 to Buy the Stupid Domain

Certainly a much more suburban, republican approach than any "Chicago" way.

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Anonymous Coward

I own a domain - it's basically my name dot com - which used to belong to someone who was a minor sporting celebrity. He retired and whoever did his PR let his site and eventually the registration go. I picked it up years ago and did some bits and pieces with it. A year or so back I got a letter from a lawyer threatening me with legal action if I didn't relinquish - not even sell - the domain. I wish I'd kept the letter because it was a brilliant bit of legal BS. My namesake made a bit of a comeback but in his first pro engagement in several years got completely hammered and went back into retirement. I emailed his lawyer and offered to sell him the domain after that, but never got a reply.

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That was probably opportunist spam, from a lawyer having no connection with your minor sporting celebrity. As with any spam it's a numbers game: threaten enough people and someone will let themselves be bullied. C.f. bogus DMCA notices.

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"bogus DMCA notices."

Are an explicit criminal offence - although they've never been prosecuted.

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