A property investor in Gleneagles in Perthshire has been ordered to give up his domain name after he registered one similar to another.
John Hunter, who lives in Guernsey, and Brendan Crozier, from Glasgow, both own flats in the exclusive area of Guthrie Villas, in the heart of Gleneagles village and rent them out to the public.
Mr. Hunter registered the domain name gleneaglesapartment.co.uk in 2007 and has used it to promote his business since. However, in 2012 Mr. Crozier registered gleneaglesapartments.co.uk, which is identical with the exception of the final s.
Nominet, the body that polices domain names in the UK, has now ordered Mr.Crozier to hand over his domain name to Mr. Hunter.
Technically, Mr. Crozier’s actions could be deemed as cybersquatting, where people intentionally register similar domains in order to confuse people – though it is not known if Mr. Crozier intended to mislead people or not.
Mr. Hunter claimed Mr. Crozier’s website was a “clear attempt to disrupt his business” and felt his flat, which enjoys a four star rating from the Scottish Tourist Board, could see its reputation damaged as a result.
Naturally, if potential customers do become confused into renting his rival’s flat, rather than his own, Mr. Hunter could stand to lose a large amount of money.
Mr. Crozier said his domain name accurately described his legitimate business and claimed to have no connection with Mr. Hunter. He believes Mr. Hunter should not have exclusive rights to the name or any variants of it.
However, Dr Russell Richardson of Nominet observed that Mr. Hunter had established goodwill and reputation in his domain name and concluded Mr. Crozier would have been aware of Mr. Hunter and his website when he registered his own domain.
“Mr. Crozier, by using the domain name in this way, has taken unfair advantage of Mr. Hunter’s rights by seeking to rely on Mr. Hunter’s goodwill and reputation in the name to generate web traffic to his website and, by doing so, diverting potential customers of Mr. Hunter to Mr. Crozier,” Dr Richardson said.
For more information on how to protect your domain names from cybersquatters please visit cscglobal.com.