Domain name 'fire sale' could break WIPO rules

A sale of desirable domain names, including barbados.net and bahamas.org, could break new rules about to be imposed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation

The Internet entrepreneur who hoped to make a quick buck from a "fire sale" of more than 300 domain names is in danger of breaking new European regulations relating to the sale of geographical domain names.

Greg McLamore, who founded the dot-com incubator WebMagic, is to auction 333 domain names online over the next three months. He claims that the domains represent the largest collection of first-tier, dictionary-word domain names to become available in the history of the Internet.

But McLamore could be crossing legal boundaries by selling geographical domain names. Contained within the online catalogue are domain names such as bahamas.org, barbados.net, carribean.net and singapore.org, available for prices ranging between £28,000 and £140,000.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), which runs the arbitration process for top level domain names, is due to publish a positioning paper next week on domains that include geographical names. "One of the main things that we have been asked to address in our second Internet domain name process is geographical terms," said WIPO's assiatant director general Frances Gurry. The WIPO position is expected to reinforce a European Union draft report which seeks to regulate geographical domain names.

Other domain names up for sale include sacked.com going for £28,000 and unemployed.com priced at £35,000.

Cargo.com has the highest mark-up price, at £700,000. Doctors.org, databases.com and liquidator.com are also expected to raise £280,000.

"You can buy and sell domain names providing that you are not stealing identities that belong to anyone else or a registered trademark," said Gurry.

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