I was instructed by the registered proprietor of a British trade mark to apply to the Chancery Division for a vesting order for a domain name that had been registered in the name of the proprietor’s ISP (internet service provider). The ISP had held that domain name for my client on bare trusts. The application had been suggested by the domain name registrar. Its legal advisors believed such an application to be necessary because the ISP had been dissolved and its assets were bona vacantia. At that time the Treasury Solicitor auctioned the domain names of dissolved companies on a special “URL auctions” pageof the Bona Vacantia website. My client feared that his company’s domain names might find their way onto that website.
Since the cost of a vesting order application would have been several thousand pounds in my time alone, this suggestion seemed a bit over the top. Bearing in mind that the registration was held on bare trusts and could have been transferred to the proprietor at any time when the ISP was solvent I was sure that there must be a better way. I also feared that this could be the first such application that the Manchester District Registry had ever seen and that it might not be easy to get it through. Nevertheless I had to act quickly as the renewal period for the registration was about to expire.
I drafted a letter for my solicitor to send to the Treasury Solicitor and another to the registrar which offered the registrar all the assurance that it needed. The registrar was a little hesitant at first but my solicitor used all her many powers of persuasion to convince its lawyer that my advice was right. Shortly afterwards, the registrar changed its rules to facilitate that sort of transfer.
As Nominet has also changed its rules to terminate a domain name registration automatically upon the dissolution of a company this sort of emergency will not arise again. But the case study illustrates perfectly the advantage of instructing specialist counsel. My solicitors were one of the biggest and most prestigious law firms in the North of England with plenty of expertise in intellectual property and computer law, but the idea occurred to me and not to them. I was able to save my client many thousands of pounds.