ROS fan loses Acorn domain in disputeBy Josh Eilken. Published: 6th Sep 2006, 23:21:20 | Permalink | Printable
Acorncomputers.co.uk handed over to new AcornThe new Acorn Computers Limited have taken acorncomputers.co.uk off the hands of its original owner Roy Johnson following a domain name dispute hearing. The website was set up by Roy as an online roadmap to post-Acorn era companies, such as Castle and RISCOS Ltd.
A complaint was brought to Nominet's Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) on May 16, 2006, where an independent expert ruled Johnson's domain was an 'abusive registration' and transferred its ownership to the new Acorn. Johnson was unable to be contacted by the DRS to take part in mediation, and ACL subsequently paid for an expert decision to take place. The company claimed that the website was misleading, as it had a prominent title of "Acorn Computers Limited", and would lead people to believe it was their official website. They argued that when the domain was registered in 2000, Element-14 still owned the Acorn trademark, making the website registration illegal.
Chris Tulley, the expert for the hearing, said he wasn't convinced that the initial registration for the domain name was abusive. He pointed out that Acorn Computers Limited only registered themselves in 2006, while Aristide & Co Antiquaire De Marques, the company which they licensed the Acorn brand from, only took ownership of the trademarks in 2003.
In his decision, Tulley wrote: "Whilst I am aware from my own general knowledge that the Acorn name was a well known business name in relation to computers in the UK in the 1980's, the Complainant has produced no evidence to support a claim to any rights to the ACORN COMPUTERS brand name prior to its registration as a company under that name on 28 January 2006 and its licence registered on 16 February 2006 under the ACORN trade mark registered as from 17 July 2003."
Tulley suggested that because Johnson had been updating the page regularly prior to ACL's licensing of the Acorn brand, that he could have demonstrated a right to keep the domain.
He added: "The Domain Name was registered in 2000 and the webpage has a visitor counter purporting to record visitors since 2001.
"In addition it states that the webpage was last updated in September 2005. These dates are all prior to the earliest date that the Complainant has demonstrated any Rights to the ACORN COMPUTERS name."
Tulley went on to say that although Johnson appeared to have been legitimately operating the site up until 2005, because there was no evidence to prove any of the dates, he couldn't give the argument any weight. ACL, the only source of evidence, were able to produce a single printout of the website from 16 May 2006, however. Tulley added that the use of the domain name by Johnson was "being used in a manner which will cause confusion".
Tulley's decision was affirmed when it was found that Johnson had not provided up-to-date contact details, which had prevented him from attending mediation in the first place. Johnson had provided the address of his company Inter-Mediates Ltd, a software vendor, which went into liquidation in November 2005. An offence in itself, this extinguished any hope of Johnson winning the case.
Tulley said: "The postal address provided by the Respondent when the Domain Name was registered in 2000 resulted in a Royal Mail return stating the 'addressee has gone away'.
"It does not state when the Respondent moved away from the address given but there is an obligation on the part of any UK domain name registrant to keep Nominet updated with a current contact address in accordance with the terms and conditions laid down by Nominet when registering domain names."
It is unknown if Johnson was aware of the hearing. Acorn Computers Limited declined to comment on the case. The acorncomputers.co.uk domain has now been turned into a mirror of ACL's main website. Drobe were unable to contact Johnson before this article went to press.
New Acorn's Nominet DRS case decision in full
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