Dorking seeks to reclaim its name

7 Sep 00
The Surrey town of Dorking faces two obstacles as it tries to make its name on the Internet.

08 September 2000

First, no town has yet won the right to register a domain name – Dorking falls under the aegis of Mole Valley District Council. Secondly, some smart operator has registered and as domain names and wants £10,000 for them.

Following an arbitration decision by the World International Property Organisation last month to award the domain name to Barcelona City Council, Dorking town centre management is considering claiming the domain names as of right.

When Kent company First Choice Promotions registered and, along with many other geographical domain names, town centre manager Simon Matthews took legal advice about claiming these for the town. But at the time there were no precedents involving local authorities.

'We've been battling since last winter with the people who bought and,' said Matthews. 'First Choice Promotions registered more than 200 .com and domain names, as well as some .org ones, including Aldershot, Dorking and Hythe.

'They then offered many for sale on the website. When I asked them how much they wanted for, they said £10,000.'

Matthews was forced to register for the town, a name he is not happy with.

When the dispute hit the national headlines several months ago, First Choice promptly changed the site content, but surfers can still find an extensive list of names for sale at the address.

Matthews said he was careful to gather evidence at the time, and believes he now has sufficient to go ahead with an arbitration complaint.

He added that he was ecstatic about the Barcelona decision, as it shows councils can now claim .com, .net and .org domains without going to court.

The arbitration system introduced last December means disputes can now be settled quickly and cheaply through one of four international arbitration bodies.

'As the town manager, I represent hundreds of firms in the town. We want to be a portal to bring business here. Up until now, the rulings haven't really helped us, but this case will give us more sway with the arbitrators.'


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