Nominet rules against "shameful" ACT in domain dispute with BAGB

Carlton Reid
Nominet rules against

The Association of Cycle Traders has been called “absurd” and “incoherent” in a document issued by the UK's domain name registry, Nominet. The decision concerns a dispute between the ACT and the Bicycle Association. The ACT had registered bicycleassociation.co.uk and bicycleassociation.uk, and directed traffic from these two URLs to its own website, and Nominet decided this was “abusive” and “patently misleading”.

Nominet released its decision on 31st August. This closes the case, and followed an appeal lodged by the ACT. The appeal was denied, and the ACT has to turn over the disputed URLs to the Bicycle Association.

The ACT represents many hundreds of independent cycle retailers in the UK while the Bicycle Association, known by this term since 1973, represents 60+ cycle suppliers and associated businesses. The ACT is associated with ACTsmart, a trade body services organisation for a number of different trades, and was founded by Mark Walmsley, who is also involved with C2Zero Limited.

Nominet's document said there was “clear evidence of deliberate, meticulous attempts to obfuscate the true nature and purpose of the domain registrations.”

Part of this obfuscation involved Ryan Franklin, a five-year-old child.

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“Matters became more confusing … as it transpired that Ryan Franklin … is the five-year-old son of Thomas Franklin who is apparently the partner of the daughter of Mark Walmsley, a director of … C2Zero Limited,” said the document produced by an independent adjudicator working for Nominet’s domain name dispute resolution service.

“A long and complicated explanation was provided as to why Ryan Franklin was recorded with Identity Protect Limited as the registrant.”

This explanation – and many others put forward by the ACT – was rejected by Nominet, which stated that the real owner of the domains in questions was, in fact, C2Zero Limited.

Nominet said this was a “shameful charade via young family members, 3rd party “suppliers”, and identity protection services, designed to allow the ACT to deny its responsibility.”

The organisation's decision document also said that there was “clear evidence of deliberate, meticulous attempts to obfuscate the true nature and purpose of the domain registrations” by the ACT.

Such “misrepresentation has the clear potential to confuse,” concluded the document.

The ACT had tried to argue that the Bicycle Association could refer to any number of cycle-related industry organisations.

This was “nonsense” said Nominet’s decision document.

Steve Garidis, operations director for the Bicycle Association, said:

"From the outset the Bicycle Association has been at a loss to understand why the ACT's agent should have wished to pursue such a claim – which was patently misleading – despite our best efforts to make a
reasonable case over several years for their desisting.

“It has proved a time-consuming and costly exercise for them, and served only to detract from the real business issues that the industry faces.”

Garidis added:

“The Bicycle Association has continued to meet and communicate with the ACT on a wide range of issues of shared interest and importance to its members, and that of the wider industry.  

“In 2016 it is even clearer how both organisations bring unique insight, expertise, and services together in the interests of all parts of the cycling industry.  In our view it has never been more important for the supply and retail sides of the industry to work together to develop and support our diverse industry."

BikeBiz has reached out to the ACT for a response to this story.

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