A number of estate agency businesses have failed to buy their .uk domain names – which have gone on to be bought by others in the last week or so, it has been claimed.
Countrywide and Winkworth are apparently among those that failed to exercise their rights to buy, in their cases, countrywide.uk and winkworth.uk, which are now in other ownerships. All are said to have been quickly snapped up once they became available.
Other agents who have had five years in which to acquire their .uk domain names but did not do so include Humberts, Abbotts, Chestertons, Strettons, Besfords and Hetheringtons.
As a result, agents have lost intellectual property worth tens of millions of pounds, and have also potentially reduced their own value, it has been put to EYE.
Estate agents are not the only ones whose .uk domain names were on a list of 1.75m released as available by UK registrar Nominet.
The property magazine Countrywide has also failed to buy its .uk domain name. Selfridges, Honda, The Times, Radio Times, Heinz and Hoares Bank have all lost the opportunity to use .uk
If you click on some of these names using .uk, you are warned that the link leads to an untrusted site.
In the UK, the best known domain is the long-standing co.uk
But five years ago, Nominet released a lot of other domains, including .me, .uk, .plc and .ltd
Businesses – and individuals – then had the five-year right to acquire those domains in their own names.
That right has now lapsed and according to domain adviser Edward Bowes Lyon, in all the cases mentioned, the agents’ .uk domain names have been acquired by third parties.
He said: “Most are now owned by Chinese investors as a long-term asset, but Countrywide could for example have had its domain name bought by a funerals business.
“Some investors may have acquired domain names where they might expect a large volume of traffic, which they can then divert.”
Bowes Lyon said: “But on the whole, these are appreciating assets which are bought for long-term investment. If any of the firms want now or in the future to acquire their .uk domain names, it will cost them a lot of money.”
The best known user of the .uk domain name is the Queen, who exclusively uses www.royal.uk
There is also www.parliament.uk
Bowes Lyon, who says he advises businesses and well known individuals on their intellectual property rights, said that agents had failed “entirely through their own inaction” to acquire .uk which he described as the “pre-eminent” domain name.