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Dairy Firm Discovers Pitfalls of Failing to Protect Its Online Presence

Websites are an essential part of almost all businesses nowadays, but it is surprising how often they do not take basic steps to protect their online presence. In one case, a dairy firm found itself in difficulty after discovering that its Internet domains were registered in the name of one of its delivery drivers.

The driver had set up the firm’s website after educating himself in technology skills. Almost a decade passed before the firm carried out a review of its online presence and realised that he was the registered owner of its domain names. He had since refused to transfer them to the firm and had been dismissed after his relationship with his employer deteriorated.

After the firm complained to Nominet, the body that polices the ownership and use of domain names in the UK, the driver said that he had registered the domains and designed the website to assist him in performing his delivery rounds. He had done so at his own expense, using his own software and his own equipment.

In upholding the firm’s complaint, however, an independent Nominet expert found that it had rights in its name, which was reproduced in its entirety in the domain names. The expert concluded that the driver’s only reason for refusing to part with them, and maintaining that he owned them, could be to use them to take unfair advantage of the firm’s rights or to cause unfair detriment to its business. The expert directed the transfer of the domain names to the firm.