29 Rights Protection Mechanisms
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The dot WALES registry will provide a relevant and trusted internet top level domain (TLD) for the use and benefit of the citizens and businesses of Wales. We view rights protection as an essential pillar in the development of a trusted and economically sustainable TLD. We will therefore adopt a set of complimentary policies and practices that minimise abusive registrations and respect the rights of third parties. These involve:
- Verification of compliant registrant data and registration eligibility by the registrar and monitoring supported by ongoing monitoring and checks by the registry. Registrants will be required to supply their Welsh address or a statement of their connection to the community represented by the dot WALES domain.
- Managed sunrise processes and periods to preserve the rights of trademark owners and those with unregistered rights.
- The Uniform Dispute Resolution Procedure (URDP) and the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) will be supported, and augmented by a free mediation service where disputes arise.
These are outlined in greater detail below.
Nominet has extensive experience of providing reliable dispute resolution, rights protection and authentication processes in the operation of the dot UK TLD, and this local knowledge of the UK market and local expectations will help to guide the dot WALES registry implementation. Rights protection measures are a core objective for the design and operation of the dot WALES registry.
Safeguards to prevent unqualified registrations
Maintaining a high standard of WHOIS accuracy combined with validation of registrant eligibility is key to promoting the rights of third parties.
Registration of a domain in the dot WALES registry will only be permitted by registrants who are able to demonstrate a connection to the Welsh community. Registrants will be asked to either:
(a) supply a verifiable postal address from a predefined list of postcodes associated with Wales; or
(b) provide a statement (in an EPP extension field) briefly explaining their connection with Wales and reasons for wanting to make use of a dot WALES domain name. The information supplied in this field will be published in WHOIS results.
The registrar shall be contractually responsible for verifying the quality of the registrant data. As noted in greater details in our answer to Question 28, registrars will be obliged to comply with rules in the registry⁄registrar agreement to ensure that registrant data is verified and correct, and is regularly reviewed at appropriate times. Failure of the registrant to provide correct and eligible data will result in the process of suspension being initiated by the registrar.
Where the registrar fails to act, Nominet will suspend the domain pending confirmation and verification of the registrant’s compliance. We will proactively monitor and audit WHOIS accuracy and enable third parties to bring complaints relating to abuse or ineligibility to our attention via standard abuse reporting processes outlined in our answer to Q28 and further below.
Further, the registry will require that registration contracts explicitly oblige the applicant to warrant that registration of the domain does not infringe any intellectual property rights to which they do not have a valid claim.
Reducing opportunities for behaviours such as phishing or pharming
We note that mitigating and responding to malicious and criminal activities such as phishing or pharming rely on the ability to detect, investigate, and respond swiftly to information or complaints from third parties. In this connection we will provide a searchable WHOIS tool on a subscription basis to enable third parties including rights-holders and law enforcement agencies, to enable them to monitor and receive alerts where domains have been registered that may invoke a trademark right, using for example, searchable keywords. Further details on the searchable WHOIS are outlined in our answer to Question 26.
Additionally, Nominet subscribes to security feeds and trusted networks that provide intelligence and notifications of domains associated with phishing or pharming. We will also provide a phishing feed to our registrars on a fee-free basis to enable them to be advised and act promptly where such activity is found.
Complaints alleging abuse such as phishing or pharming will be dealt with swiftly according to the abuse policies and processes set out further below in addition to our answer to Question 28.
Protection of third party trademark rights: implementation of sunrise and landrush period
The dot WALES registry will exceed the minimum mandatory rights protection mechanisms set out in the draft registry agreement (i.e. a 30 day sunrise period for trademark holders in the Clearing House and a 60 day claims service during general availability). We will deploy a staged sunrise process before making domain names available for general registration on a first-come, first-served basis. The trademark claims service mandated by ICANN to provide notice to potential registrants of existing trademark rights, as well as notice to rights holders of relevant names registered, will operate throughout all phases and for the first 60 days of general registration.
The sequential order of availability for dot WALES domains will be as follows:
(1) Sunrise period for both trademarks in the ICANN Trademark Clearinghouse and other registered trademarks enforceable in the UK;
(2) Sunrise period for unregistered rights (also known as ‘passing off’ rights) enforceable in the UK;
(3) Landrush for premium domain names open to all eligible applicants; and
(4) Landrush open to all other applicants.
Phase (1) will be open to those parties with registered trademark rights. Parties who wish to take part in this phase will have the option of either registering their rights at the ICANN Trademark Clearinghouse, or going through a dot WALES-specific trade mark validation process. We intend to allow applications during the first phase to take place over a period of 2 months. Phase (2) will be open to parties with legally enforceable unregistered rights; we will require an affidavit from a qualified intellectual property lawyer confirming that they believe such unregistered rights exist. Phase (3) will be for previously identified ‘premium’ domain names and will be open to anyone who can fulfil the registrant requirements for dot WALES explained earlier in this answer, regardless of whether they have any prior rights in a name. The landrush at phase (4) will be open only to parties based in or with a connection to Wales.
In the event that more than one valid application for the same domain name is received in a given phase, an auction will be used to determine who will be entitled to the domain name. In order to prevent unnecessary delay in moving to subsequent phases, auctions for a given phase will be held in parallel with subsequent phases, given that there is no detriment in doing so.
Once these four phases have been completed, dot WALES domains will be made available on a first come, first served basis (subject to eligibility requirements).
The registry will charge only an administrative fee to cover the verification of rights claims by an independent expert. This fee will be calculated on a cost-recovery basis. For the landrush phases, participants will pay a nominal application fee, the purpose of which is to ensure that only genuine participants take part in any auction.
A stakeholder engagement and communications programme to inform stakeholders and rights-owners will be deployed in advance of the launch of the dot WALES registry. This programme will be conducted in partnership with relevant community organisations to inform and promote the rules and mechanisms by which registrants will be permitted to register rights and dot WALES domains including in the Sunrise stages. This will encourage engagement from rights owners to either take up their rights at low cost by registering a domain or to ensure that their trademark is registered in the Clearinghouse. We understand the needs, concerns and priorities of stakeholders due to our considerable experience of stakeholder engagement and management from our dot UK operations. These stakeholders include government, businesses, registrants, registrars, law enforcement authorities, the internet community, and regulatory bodies. Nominet has developed tried and tested multi-stakeholder processes for consulting and engaging with stakeholders, using those processes to inform the way in which policies and rules are developed and reviewed in order that costs are minimised and benefits maximised. Nominet has a full-time Secretariat and has committed additional senior resource to ensuring the process of community liaison with rights holders and other stakeholders is effectively managed. All information relating to the Sunrise will be clearly provided on the Nominet website at least 3 months in advance of the sunrise process commencing.
The dot WALES registry will use mechanisms to raise awareness through proactive contact with business and industry stakeholders who are registered companies through the UK’s Companies House to advise and assist with their decision-making, limiting the unintended consequences of a lack of awareness.
Protection of third party trademark rights: implementation of the trademark Post-delegation Dispute Resolution Policy (PDDRP)
We fully support third party trademark rights, and will follow the PDDRP process as required under the Registry Agreement. We believe that the approach to the operation of the dot WALES registry set out in this application demonstrates that we intend to operate the dot WALES registry in a way which will not harm the interests of trademark holders.
We commit to entering into good faith negotiations with parties who have a valid concern regarding their trademark rights, and to participating in good faith in the PDDRP process. In the unlikely event that a PDDRP complaint is brought against the dot WALES registry, the complaint will be dealt with by Nominetʹs in-house legal team with assistance from external counsel if necessary.
Dispute resolution: implementation of the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP)
In line with standard practice (and the Registrar Accreditation Agreement) we would expect UDRP decisions to be implemented by the relevant ICANN-accredited registrar.
In addition, we will offer free mediation to parties disputing dot WALES registrations, which they may make use of before entering the UDRP process. This should increase the chance of a successful settlement and increase the quality of submissions to the UDRP process by exposing weaknesses and omissions in parties’ positions. This mediation will be provided in-house by Nominetʹs two qualified mediators, who already have substantial experience of such disputes from their role in mediating dot UK disputes under the dot UK Dispute Resolution Service.
Nominet will provide clear and accessible information on our website for complainants, registrants, and other stakeholders on how to invoke a UDRP process and on using the free mediation service.
Dispute resolution: implementation of the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS)
The dot WALES registry will fully implement the URS system to offer trademark owners a quick and low cost procedure to suspend infringing websites. Our four-person second-line support team will deal with any URS notifications relating to dot WALES domain names as soon as reasonably practicable, and in any event within 24 hours of receipt of the decision from the URS provider. The support team works 08:00 to 18:00 GMT, with one member on-call outside of those hours to address any urgent issues. The on-call support team member will implement all URS notifications received outside of core working hours.
Abusive use and takedown procedures
As outlined in greater detail in our answer to Question 28, where the dot WALES registry is made aware of and satisfied that there has been a breach of domain name registration rules, the domain may be transferred, cancelled or suspended by the registrar or registry.
Nominet’s abuse team will acknowledge all complaints within 72 hours and an investigation of the complaint will be conducted within a further 48 hours. The outcome of the investigation may lead to the registrant of the domain name being put on notice of the complaint and the need to rectify the alleged abuse, or, advice that the complainant file a complaint under the URDP or mediation. Where there is any pending action, the registrant will be contacted in advance where appropriate and will be informed of the appeal procedure.
The complainant will be advised of the outcome of the investigation.
We will require dot WALES registrars, via the registry⁄registrar agreement, to have a robust abuse policy and to promptly take steps to disable or remove abusive domains. The registry reserves the right to require a registrar (or its re-seller through the registrar) to transfer, delete or suspend a domain contravening this policy, and reserves the right to exercise the transfer, deletion or suspension of such a domain where the registrar is unable to act.
Suspensions related to abusive registrations, malicious or criminal activity will be handled by a dedicated support team that works closely with law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and will operate a rapid suspension process as outlined in our answer to Question 28.
We recognise that registrars have a closer relationship with registrants and are usually in a better position to take steps where such activity is present.
Rights protection mechanisms and pre-UDRP mediation will be handled by Nominetʹs existing Dispute Management team incorporating two qualified lawyers and two experienced mediators. Abuse notification and URS requests would be handled by the Nominetʹs Abuse team made up of four staff.
- Policy development, stakeholder engagement, and communications: 8 days by Policy Secretariat and legal team.
Total pre-launch resource time: 8 days
Ongoing business as usual
- Mediators: 3 hours per week
- Abuse team: 0.5 hours per week
Total ongoing business as usual resource: 3.5 hours per week
Similar gTLD applications: (1)
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