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Nominet stands up for little (wo)man over government quango

FSA gets sweet fsa.co.uk

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The UK domain registrar Nominet has maintained its tradition of evenhandedness and decided strongly in favour of a small software company based in Bournemouth over a government quango in a domain dispute case.

Following an independent expert's judgment that Findlay Steele Associates should retain the domain www.fsa.co.uk instead of it being handed over to the Financial Services Authority (FSA), Nominet took the decision that the FSA was not going to launch a legal action and hence the domain would not be suspended.

Under Nominet's (old) rules, if the domain is likely to be the focus of a legal action, it can/will cause the temporary suspension of that domain until such a time as the dispute is resolved.

The FSA has not ruled out legal action for "passing off", claiming that Findlay Steele is gaining undue attention/benefiting off the back of the FSA's name. A spokesman for the quango conceded that Nominet had "put the ball in our court now" but declined to say whether the threat of legal action was lifted. "We are still considering the latest communication from Nominet - which was considerably more favourable to Ms Findlay than the original decision," he said.

Originally, Nominet had decided there was a case to answer with regard to confusion between the two domains, compounded by an email the FSA claimed came from a financial journalist using the fsa.co.uk email address and two emails mistakenly sent from the FSA itself and its solicitors to Findlay Steele.

It advised the domain be suspended but Findlay Steele appealed and an independent judge ruled that Findlay Steele was acting reasonably with regard to wrongly forwarded emails and decided in favour of Findlay Steele. The judge was still concerned with possible legal action though. Four days later, Nominet decided to overlook the threat of such action.

Elaine Findlay told us she was delighted by the decision and had been overwhelmed by support since the issue first came to light, including offers of free legal advice and press relations work. For the best review of the whole situation, visit her site (at fsa.co.uk). ®

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