Hi, all, thought I'd chip in on this subject, especially, as I think everyone knows, Dr Cooke is me.
First of all I'd like to say a big thank you to MattLFC for explaining how helpful it was that courts dealt with this in such a way,it seems it doesn't matter that it hasn't gone to court (yet, but I'll deal with that later), and how cybersquatting is a terrible thing, again, agreed, but there is no suggestion by anyone (except MattLFC) that this was anything of the sort.
on the subject: I own a lot (a LOT) of domain names, I'm not into buying ones similar to other companies and I don't try to sell them on, they were all purchased either in connection with businesses I own (or did own) and/or friends/family names.
Eleven (almost twelve) years ago I was buying some domains and a friend asked me to get one for them, their surname was (and still is) Kirwan, that name was not available so the site suggested several alternatives, www.kirwans.co.uk
being one of them, the domains where a few pounds a year so I bought it, having an account (which you needed at the time) the name was automatically registered in my name.
Now in 1999 when this domain was registered I was living in Cheshire, Kirwans Solicitors didn't operate there and had no offices there (actually they still don't), so it wasn't a "local" company to me.
In about 2002/2003 the domain started to get some mail intended for Kirwans Solicitors, at first this was just forwarded on to them, then we called their office and mentioned this mail and asked if they wanted the domain (and no not for some exorbitant price), they replied, by letter, which I still have (hoarder that I am) that they had "no interest" in the domain, that they were not called Kirwans they were Kirwans Solicitors and asking that we not forward any further mail to them in order to cut down on spam.
About a year later the name was used as part of a link to an adult website. I have dealt with many such companies over the years and this one has traded without a peep from Kirwans Solicitors for the past seven years.
Earlier this year Kirwans Solicitors underwent rebranding, changed its name, signage and letterheads to Kirwans, they then (I believe) decided that they wanted the www.kirwans.co.uk
Kirwans made a complaint to Nominet that I had registered an abusive registration, and that people wanting their webite could be directed to an adult store and this was causing distress to their staff and customers, I responded that this was untrue, that they only wanted the domain because they have rebranded, that they registered their domain BEFORE I registered mine (meaning it was available if they wanted it) and showing emails they had sent which discussed wanting the name BEFORE they knew about the adult site (one of the staff, being a bit thick, had filled in his reply address using @kirwans rather than @kirwanssolicitors so I received a copy of everything.
Nominet refused to transfer the name back to them, my reply showed how Kirwans Solicitors had manipulated the truth and given only the information that they wanted to be seen in their complaint (photo's of their NEW frontage showing Kirwans, without saying it was new, luckily Google Street view still has their original on display, their NEW letterheads, similar story etc etc).
Kirwans Solicitors then took the case to an Independant Expert (appointed by Nominet) who reviewed the case, and it is his decision that Nominet abide by. I again pointed out that Kirwans Solicitors only wanted this domain as they had rebranded, to which they said that it was not that and that the website was causing them distress.
The Independant Expert (a solicitor) took Kirwans Solicitors side and ordered that the domain be transferred to them immediately.
As it stands at the moment the case is due for a judicial review and, because of the way the case was handled by the Independant Expert, it is also being reviewed by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority). Basically Kirwans Solicitors, and the expert, were in touch and in fact know each other, despite him having made a sworn statement that he knows of no conflict as part of Nominets procedure. As I said, someone in the firm is a bit thick (I know who as their name forms part of the email but for legal reasons I cannot say who this is) and I received copies of their messages. Kirwans Solicitors also made several claims in their complaint which were later proven to have no basis in fact whatsoever (that may mean that they were lies but of course I could not possibly comment).
A few things to note, I used Kirwans Solicitors for a case against a company in 2006, David Kirwan met me several times times then and nothing was ever mentioned about this, oh and the case was won, so I didn't really have any grudge.
It is of interest to note the comment made by a senior partner in the firm to Ben Schofield, (the reporter) that
We decided to get control of the kirwans.co.uk domain earlier this year as part of a major rebranding for the firm, intended to reflect its significant growth during recent years.
“Until then, it had not really been an issue because our existing domain, www.kirwanssolicitors.co.uk
, was widely known and highly ranked in search engines.
which is strange as that is EXACTLY what I had said in my reply to Nominet, and which Michael Sandys (the author of this quote, AND the senior partner who complained to Nominet) had denied only a few month earlier.
I have spoken to Nominet today and they are again reviewing the case in light of this new evidence, I don't think this is over yet.