Internet company Euroweb has been accused of attempting to cash in on people's ignorance about registering domain names.
Euroweb has sent out letters to several blue chip companies urging them to register their companies under the domain, .great-britain.com. The most popular UK domain registration is .co.uk.
In one letter seen by PC Week and sent to the chief executive of HSBC Holdings which owns the Midland Bank on the 7 October, EuroWeb stated that unless the address http://www.hsbc.great-britain.com was registered with it within seven days, the company would assume the banking group wasn't interested and allow another party to proceed with the registration.
As PC Week went to press, no one had registered the domain name.
Euroweb charges #65 for the initial registration, #45 for subsequent registrations and #20 maintenance a year.
NetBenefit, the largest register of domain names in the UK, has accused Euroweb of attempting to cash-in on Web ignorance. Larry Bloch, NetBenefit's managing director, said: "We believe this to be a blatant attempt to intimidate companies into spending money on an arguably worthless name - i.e. company.great-britain.com. There is obviously no third party interested in that address."
Euroweb registered great-britain.com on the 11 September with UK Internet Service Provider, Sonnet. Sonnet confirmed no company uses the great-britain.com domain, despite Euroweb's claims to the contrary.
Derek Kelly, an associate of Euroweb, confirmed the HSBC letter but said he couldn't provide specific information on the bank's position regarding the domain registration. However, he claimed that ".co.uk has absolutely no credibility in the Internet community. Euroweb is providing an alternative to .co.uk. There is absolutely nothing wrong with what we are doing, this is a free market."
Sonnet's managing director Yvonne Hewins is taking legal advice to establish whether or not Euroweb's actions are legal. "We do not agree to register domain names that are being sold on to third parties. I'm aghast at what is going on and frankly we're caught in the middle," she said.
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