Interpretation of the co.no judgement
Sør-Trøndelag District Court resolved the lawsuit between Elineweb and Norid in a judgement made on 28 June 2012, see previous mention of the case. The judgement finds in favour of Norid on several principal issues regarding the domain name policy and our right to add co.no to the list of domain names that cannot be registered or transferred.
About the co.no domain
The category “co” is used as an official category domain within several other top-level domains, e.g. co.uk. This is not the case in Norway.
A private party, Elineweb AS, registered co.no in 2001. As the use of co-domains increased in other countries, Norid was concerned that confusion might arise regarding co.no. We therefore chose to put co.no on the list of Norwegian domain names that cannot be registered. The decision did not take away the holder’s right to normal use of the domain, but when the it is on the list of prohibited names, they cannot transfer it to another holder.
Elineweb takes Norid to court
In 2010 the private company CoDNS launched and marketed co.no in such a way that the usage could, in our opinion, cause regular Internet users to confuse co.no with an official second-level category domain. We contacted the holder, Elineweb, to learn if the domain had been transferred in conflict with the .no domain name policy. Elineweb responded by taking Norid to court.
What is the case about?
The Court tried four items:
- Is the change to the domain name policy valid?
- Is Norid liable for compensation towards Elineweb?
- Is the agreement between Elineweb and CoDNS in contravention of Norid’s domain name policy?
- Must Norid retract information published earlier?
Elineweb entered a statement of claim that the change to the domain name policy that put co.no on the list of prohibited names, was invalid.
The Domain Regulation requires that Norid must make a number of considerations when making changes to the domain name policy. In the Court’s opinoin, this provision cannot be interpreted to mean that all the criteria must be fully satisfied. The different considerations must be weighted against each other, and some given greater weight than others. However, this weighting must be justified so that it may be re-examined later.
After the Court’s assessment, Norid’s decision to put co.no on the prohibited-list was justified and rooted in the Domain Regulation. The Court thus finds that the decision is valid.
Elineweb raised a compensation claim for financial losses suffered, based on the delayed start-up of the activity and loss of reputation.
The reason why Norid requested further information from Elineweb, was information on CoDNS’s homepage that gave Norid reason to believe that the rights to the domain name co.no had been transferred to CoDNS. The Court found that the information published by CoDNS did provide basis for such an assumption.
Elineweb refused to provide the information we asked for until the Court ordered them to. In the Court’s opinion, Elineweb must therefore carry the responsibility that the case proceeded as it did. The Court’s conclusion is thus that Norid is not liable to pay compensation.
The Court has considered whether the agreement between the parties Elineweb and CoDNS is in breach with the current system of agreements. The conclusion is that the agreement is not in contravention of the domain name policy, and that due to this, there is no basis for confiscating co.no.
Our interpretation of the judgement is that the Court finds that the agreement(s) between Elineweb and CoDNS do not contravene the domain transfer ban. The Court finds that the agreement does not by its nature suggest a circumvention of the current domain name policy, but is rather an adjustment to the regulations in force.
In our opinion, the Court has not considered the usage or marketing of co.no on CoDNS’s homepage. There is therefore no basis for claiming that the Court has ruled that CoDNS’s business model is in full compliance with the domain name policy for .no.
Elineweb presented a claim whereby Norid should be bound to delete the information published on www.norid.no in October 2010.
The judgement does not order a deletion, but does require Norid to write on our website, and to notify the registrars in particular, that the agreement between Elineweb and CoDNS is not in breach of the current system of agreements. This was carried out through a press release and an exclusive notification to the registrars on 29 June 2012.
The judgement from Sør-Trøndelag
District Court 28 June 2012
The Domain Regulation (Norwegian only)
The domain name policy for .no
The process for changing the domain name policy
Guidelines for changing the prohibited list