Peli, makers of heavy plastic boxes, has been labelled a reverse domain name hijacker by Nominet after wrongly claiming ownership of a disputed website name.
The company was accused by Nominet dispute resolution expert Nial Vivian of an "overt attempt to deceive" him in its failed bid to use the UK domain name registry's dispute processes to hijack peli.co.uk from its rightful owner.
Peli, which makes transit boxes under the brand name Peli Cases, falsely claimed that domainer* business Stenning Ltd, the rightful owner of peli.co.uk, had snapped up the domain and attempted to ransom it back.
Although Peli made claims about its trademarks and previous ownership of the domain, it failed to substantiate these to Nominet's dispute resolution system (DRS). That system operates as a sort of private court that rules on who should own what domain names.
"I find that this complaint was an attempt at Reverse Domain Name Hijacking by the Complainant," said Vivian in his ruling (case D00022816), having previously written: "I consider this at the very least to be an attempt by the Complainant to weaken the Respondent's case in the eyes of the Expert by presenting inaccurate unchecked evidence, and so obtain the Domain Name from the Respondent. This in my view leads to a finding the Complainant is using the DRS in bad faith in an attempt to deprive a Respondent of a Domain Name."
Despite claiming that peli.co.uk was owned by the company of similar name until Stenning Ltd snatched it away, in truth the disputed domain had been owned by other firms for at least six years before Stenning acquired it.
Further, Peli said Stenning had previously been the subject of a DRS complaint, telling Vivian: "It is also clear that no description of business has been provided and with a quick Google search they have been subject to complaints to Nominet in the past."
Vivian noted of the single instance cited by Peli: "If that case is reviewed it is readily apparent that the Respondent succeeded, on facts remarkably similar to the present case – in that the Respondent had acquired another four letter domain name (scor.co.uk) for its generic value rather than by way of targeting the complainant in that case."
Peli has been contacted for comment and we will update this article if the firm responds.
Nominet's DRS is part and parcel of the terms and conditions for owning a UK domain name. Strictly speaking it is a form of binding arbitration in which both sides agree to abide by the DRS's decisions. As Nominet remains in ultimate control of .uk domain names and can forcibly reassign them, the system runs smoothly enough. It is, however, a neat little earner for the experts involved, as we reported in 2019.
Reverse domain name hijacking is relatively rare, though earlier this year a British firm called Pusher Ltd tried and failed to get pusher.co.uk reallocated to it on a similar basis. ®
* Domainer – a person or business that trades in domain names for profit by buying and selling them. Nominet's rules say thou shalt not extort trademark holders for domain names based on those trademarks but otherwise it's a free for all.