Our thanks to National Co-op Grocers in Iowa

Since the end of last year, I’ve been trying to register www.development.coop for this organisation, Development Co‑operative Ltd, the new consortium co-op of CDBs, and discovered it was a registered, but unused, domain name, owned by the National Co-op Grocers https://www.ncg.coop based in Iowa. They are a business services co-operative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States, representing 148 food co-ops in 38 states.

This caused me some concern, as I’ve got history with trying to get hold of unused websites.

In 2012 consultancy.coop was managing the Welsh end of an Interreg 4A project aimed at social entrepreneurs in Ireland and north Wales. As part of the project I had to set up a website. As an EU supported cross-border project we wanted an international domain name, and the obvious choice was a .eu domain. Unfortunately the one we wanted was already registered to a Spanish University, but unused.

Having traced the registered holder I emailed them, but got no reply. We then emailed contacts off their website and again no reply, so we looked up the dispute arbitration procedure. We discovered that the Arbitration Court attached to the Czech Chamber of Commerce and Agricultural Chamber of the Czech Republic is the dispute resolution provider for .eu domain names. Disputes are handled by email in Czech, and the upfront fee is €1,300, so we did the obvious thing – we gave up and registered a .biz domain instead.

However, this is where the two stories go in different directions. I emailed the registered holder at www.ncg.coop and got no reply, so I contacted Nicola Huckerby at www.domains.coop to ask about arbitration for disputes, and she had to confess she was unfamiliar with the process, indeed she’d never heard of it being used. So she put me in contact with Kelly Smith and John Ferguson at the NCG. An email followed, and a couple of days later they had agreed to transfer the domain to us, no hesitation, no arguments, no thoughts about a fee, just Principal Six in action. Thanks guys.

I’ve since discovered there is a dispute resolution procedure for .coops, but there’s no up-front fee, its in English, and it’s based on negotiation and conciliation; and formal arbitration by ICANN only kicks in as a last resort.

Who says co-ops aren’t different.

Alex Bird
Webmaster, www.consultancy.coop – www.shares.coop – www.cooperatives-wales.coop