Ryanair wins domain name fight but not the battle

Nominet, the UK domain name registry has decided in favour of Ryanair in a case relating to the ihateryanair.co.uk domain name. The decision entails the transfer of the domain name from the registrant to Ryanair. Ryanair won because the registrant had made a small commercial gain from the website which, according to the Nominet expert, took unfair advantage of Ryanair’s name as it was that name that had drawn visitors to the website.

However, the registrant has now transferred the content of the website to a different domain name, ihateryanair.org. The rules governing .org domain names are different from those governing .co.uk and Ryanair would face a more difficult challenge if it decided to initiate proceedings.

The risk for a trademark owner in such cases is that unless it obtains an injunction through the courts, the registrant can simply transfer the content to a multiplicity of other domain names.

It remains to be seen whether Ryanair will challenge the .org registration.

Please click here to email Simon Halberstam, Head of Technology Law, or call 020 3206 2781.