Up to 3.2 million British website owners risk losing brand protection with the upcoming deadline for .uk domain reservations.
The Nominet website says: “Those with .co.uk registrations before midnight on 28 October 2013 were given five years to decide whether to register the corresponding .uk ending as well.
“Of the original 10 million domains who had their rights reserved in June 2014, there are now 3.2 million domains that have not registered the corresponding shorter .uk equivalent.
The deadline closes at 06:00 BST (UTC+1) on 25 June, which marks the end of the 5-year reservation period.
After this deadline, the domain will become available to the public on 1 July.
This means that anyone can set up a website on a similar-looking domain, which could affect brand identity.
Eleanor Bradley, MD of Registry Solutions at Nominet, said: “With issues such as cyber-attacks, data breaches, and counterfeiting becoming growing challenges for businesses’ security and brand protection strategies, preventing anyone else from registering a shorter version of the same name is a simple way to close off a potential headache.
“If smaller bloggers and web owners have a unique brand that they trade off, they should consider registering their .uk equivalent.
“Having this second address offers another level of brand protection by comprehensively preventing any other party from registering and operating a business or an interest with the same name online.
“While there is no certainty that the second level domain would be used competitively – or even be registered by someone else – prevention is often better than cure, especially considering the relatively low cost of domain registration.”
You can check to see if your website has a .uk domain already registered on the Nominet .uk page.
You are also able to register your .uk domain with the domain registrar that you have your main domain registered to.
If you do see that someone is using the .uk version of your domain, don’t jump to panicking.
It may simply be a coincidence and is not necessarily going to affect you unless there is clear brand damage or it looks like they are trying to trick your customers into giving their details away to a pretend version of your site.