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Reports were circulating last week about a UK company getting the rough end of an arrangement whereby US companies can wrest control of domain names away from non-US companies that already have them registered with the InterNIC. Prince Plc, a UK-based training firm has lost its domain name after a protest to Network Solutions Inc (NSI), the company that administers the InterNIC in the US, by Prince Sports Group, a US company, despite Prince Plc having registered the name more than two years ago. The problem arises because US courts have consistently ruled that trademarks extend to domain names, and therefore, in theory, taking the case to court in the US would be a pointless exercise for non-US trademark holders. NSI says UK Prince had plenty of options open to it under NSI’s Domain Name Resolution Policy, but couldn’t really name any beyond changing its domain name. However, we hear that the case has upset a couple of major UK software players to such an extent that they are prepared to take the matter to the European courts. Prince Plc said the NSI policy discriminates against thousands of non-US domain name holders as few non-US companies hold US trademarks. NSI said is still available as a domain name, but Prince would not take it. It also said that Nominet, the UK equivalent of NSI, has much more restrictive practices, and would not hesitate to suspend or withdraw a .uk domain name if it merely caused confusion.

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