When Does Ryanair Pursue Domain Names?

We have a number of comments on Ryanair's pursuit of domain name claims.

The Intention Behind Their Complaint
Ryanair's Trademark
Ryanair's Lack of Interest in Non-Critical Sites
Ryanair's Concern for its Customers

The Intention Behind Their Complaint

We suspect that Ryanair's main intention, as evidenced by their solicitors' letters demanding that the site be shut down as long ago as 2004, is to censor the content of this site. However, they have been successful in gaining control of the domain name ryanair.org.uk, having complained on the grounds that it infringed their trademark. This effectively censored the content, until they attempted to gain control of our current domain name, ryanaircampaign.org, and were unsuccessful, resulting in a lot of publicity. Neither judgement had anything to do with the content of this site.

We accepted the judgement (by Nominet) about our original domain name (from which we have never earned a penny, nor in any way attempted to pass ourselves off as Ryanair) and moved to the current domain name specifically to avoid the trademark issue. Search engine ratings inevitably plummeted, and the campaign was effectively over, but Ryanair could not resist snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. They made an incompetent complaint about ryanaircampaign.org, the ruling in which not only gave us publicity, but seems to be a precedent in the interests of free speech.

There were three main problems with their complaint to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO):

  1. They implied that the case regarding the previous domain name was a precedent.
  2. They referred repeatedly to the site content which was relevant neither to the Nominet decision nor to the WIPO procedure.
  3. They made claims about our previous statements and cited annexes as evidence, when there was no evidence of their claims in the annexes (nor had we made the statements that they said we had). The WIPO expert actually read all the material and was not fooled.

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Ryanair's Trademark

Ryanair may well have rights to its trademark. However, it is interesting that in their complaint to Nominet, they cited as evidence of their rights a number of domain names they had registered, such as ryanaircreditcard.com and ryanaircreditcard.net. They registered these domain names in 2005. We registered ryanair.org.uk in 2003.

It is not clear why a complaint containing such blatant dishonesty and obfuscation was not ruled out of order by Nominet. Nor was it ruled out of order on the basis of other facts pointed out in our response to the complaint, such as that Ryanair's solicitors had falsely claimed that the respondent would bear the cost of the complaint (an attempt at intimidation and a false statement about Nominet) and the fact that they claimed to have pursued and retrieved other domain names, when in fact they had shown no interest in obviously abusively registered domain names leading to sites which did not criticise Ryanair.

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Ryanair's Lack of Interest in Non-Critical Sites

Ryanair doesn't seem to have shown much interest in some other domain names containing their trademark. We checked out the situation when they made their complaint about ryanair.org.uk in summer 2006.

At the time of their complaint, www.ryanair.net led to a site using the Ryanair trademark to sell electronic goods. Since this was pointed out in our response, they have pursued it, but had shown no interest in doing so before. At 3 February 2008 it points to a Bournemouth International Airport site praising Ryanair.

At the time of their complaint, www.ryanair.biz led to a site advertising flights, including competitors of Ryanair. At 3 February 2008 it still does.

At the time of their complaint, www.ryanair.uk.net was registered, but led to no site. At 3 February 2008 it leads to a site linking to many services, including competitors of Ryanair. It has many popups on every action and is difficult to close down, so it's not advisable to visit.

At the time of their complaint, www.ryanair.uk.com was registered, but led to no site. At 3 February 2008 it is registered as part of Shopping.net, and leads to a site using the Ryanair name to advertise links to many services, including flights by competitors of Ryanair (but says nothing critical of Ryanair).

At the time of their complaint and still at 3 February 2008, www.ryanair.org is registered by a company using the Ryanair name to advertise links to many services, including flights by competitors of Ryanair (but says nothing critical of Ryanair).

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Ryanair's Concern for its Customers

Ryanair falsely stated in their most recent complaint that we had claimed that people had been confused by the domain name ryanair.org.uk, and that we had admitted that people were confused into believing that they could contact Ryanair through our email address.

It is interesting to see how concerned they were about people possibly thinking that they could send emails @ryanair.org.uk and get through to Ryanair.

Despite having had control of the domain name ryanair.org.uk for over a year, Ryanair has not diverted the emails. As of 3 February 2008, we still receive emails addressed to info@ryanair.org.uk.

If Ryanair really thought that customers were trying to contact them by email via that domain name, it's interesting that they have shown no interest in reading any of the messages.

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