W3C – what’s in a name?

Nosily browsing through some domains registered in the new .eu top level domain (TLD) launched this April, I noticed that W3C’s application to register W3C.eu had been rejected. One would have thought that if anyone had a claim to this domain name, it would be W3C but apparently their claim to prior rights on the name was not considered convincing enough to the evaluators. I really will reach for my water pistol the next time I hear someone from W3C talk about the Web being a unified information space and argue that the semantics of domain names are important. If they really are key to identity – particularly corporate identity – one would have thought that there would be more care in handing them out under this high profile TLD.

This domain was launched with much fanfare and promotion of its strong public policy rules, and yet every day I seem to unearth yet another wierd decision*. I’m wondering what the assessors are actually doing for their money? Granted, they have had to deal with an avalanche of requests and disputes but one had hoped that this would be done at least thoroughly: the cost of entering a “Alternate Dispute Resolution” – to have a court appointed panel to adjudicate and rule on complaints – runs at about two thousand Euros a pop – much beyond most individuals’ abilities, and with cybersquatters probabaly willing to settle for a percentage of that to hand over a registered name.

The public policy rules state clearly that a ground for dispute is if a domain name has been registered or is being used in bad faith: you could offer as proof of bad faith that a squatter is offering you a domain for, say, €500 but it’ll cost you four times that to (possibly) force them to to hand it over. Do the maths. A lovely business model for organised and institutionalised fraud

*I should declare an interest here as I’m a battle myself for control of a domain name too: one for which I was happy to compete with others, on the basis of a fair “first come, first regsitered” basis but only to discover that a cyber-squatter has managed to prior register the name in question with very spurious evidence indeed.

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