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New law: GDPR means intellectual property rights owners will find it harder to identify domain name owners infringing their rights

Owners of intellectual property (IP) rights such as trade marks are likely to find it harder to obtain details of UK domain name owners allegedly infringing their IP rights from May, because of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

May 2018

This update was published in Legal Alert - May 2018

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaces UK data protection laws from 25 May 2018. It provides individuals with more extensive control over disclosure of their personal data.

One consequence is that the UK domain name register, Nominet (which is responsible for administering UK domain names such as those ending in .uk, .co.uk, .org.uk and .me.uk) is proposing to stop making individual domain name owner details immediately available to users of its online ‘Whois’ domain name search facility unless it has the owner’s express consent to do so. A searcher will need to show they have a legitimate interest’ in having access to those details before they will be given access to them.

Rights owners wishing to take action against domain name owners – for example, because they are operating a website which infringes their trade marks, design or copyright - will therefore find it harder to obtain details of a UK domain name owner allegedly infringing their rights.

Operative date

  • Now


  • Intellectual property owners should consider how these changes may change their ability to enforce their rights against alleged infringers, and how they may need to show they have a legitimate interest in having access to infringer’ details.

Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

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