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DVLA fails in reverse domain name hijack

Bloody nose for Govt bully boy

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The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the government body responsible for administering and issuing driving licences in the UK, has been heavily censured in a rejection of its bid to acquire the domain DVLA.com.

The DVLA went to domain arbitrator WIPO in an attempt to obtain control of the disputed domain from DVL Automation Inc, a Pennsylvania-based firm which specialises in automation control and logic systems for power plants. It lost its case, and earned itself a sharp rebuke from Dan Hunter, sitting alone on WIPO's arbitration panel.

Hunter ruled that the DVLA acted in bad faith and its complaint constituted an abuse of WIPO's oft-criticised Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.

Although the UK government body established that it has registered the trademark for the term "DVLA", this right doesn't extend to taking over the running of DVLA.com, he ruled.

DVL Automation has used DVLA.com for six years in its business, which can hardly be confused with driving license administration. Hunter questioned the DVLA's assertion that the US firm should be using DVL.com and that by not doing so it was acting in bad faith.

On the contrary it was the DVLA that was acting in bad faith and its claim amounted to an attempt at reverse domain name hijacking.

Strong stuff, and sure to cause a certain amount of discomfort in the Swansea HQ of the DVLA. You can read WIPO's full judgement here.

The DVLA main Web site is at dvla.gov.uk but it runs a commercial site (at dvla-som.co.uk) where British car owners can purchase particular vehicle registration numbers. It had hoped to transfer this operation to DVLA.com - a plan WIPO's tough judgement has consigned to the scrap heap.

Dvla.com remains the property of DVL Automation, which (even though it didn't respond to the complaint) has won a decisive victory in the dispute. ®

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