Today, I must unfortunately announce the loss of our name SYNACK.co.uk. Since March 2017 I have been involved in a dispute with Synack.com regarding our use of the name “SYN ACK”. We have until 13th August 2018 to change our name.
I’m not blind, I can see that Synack and SYN ACK contain the same letters, and when presented as a domain “synack.com” and “synack.co.uk” are indeed the same word with different TLDs. What’s different, and a very important distinction to make is the context of the words. The dispute basically boiled down to two points, which I will discuss further, one of which will go in to this very important context.
- Synack have a right to the domain because they hold an a trademark within the EU. Perfectly valid, but this does not entitle you to a domain, and so they must also prove the following;
- The domain was an “Abusive Registration” and only registered to either benefit from, or harm the brand of the complainant.
The first point is cut and dry. Although I didn’t know when registering SYNACK.co.uk in July 2016, in May 2016 Synack did indeed register a trademark within the EU and this does give them a claim to the domain. It is the second point that irritates me no end, and one that was “justified” with no basis or consideration for fact, whatsoever.
It was determined in the case by the expert that as a “tech savvy” individual, I must have googled “Synack” ahead of my registration and therefore, I must have known about their existence. Because of this false belief, I therefore must have purchase “Synack.co.uk” with the sole intention off benefiting from their brand, and with the intention of confusing their customer base and causing damage to their brand.
This claim is completely and utterly nonsense, and it’s important to understand why. In the context of Synack.com, “Synack” is a completely made up word with no meaning. How can I, as an individual, be expected to have Googled a non-word prior to having knowledge of the relevance of that non-word? Some may think I have gone mental here, but it’s important to look at the context of our use of the word. I did indeed Google ahead of my purchase, in fact I have googled this many times. What I entered in to that search bar changes the results an incredible amount. Google “Synack”, and you are indeed presented with endless results about Synack.com, but, when used in our context, SYN ACK are two separate words (SYNchronise and ACKnowledge), or hyphenated. When you Google ‘SYN ACK’ or ‘SYN-ACK’ you are presented (for the most part) with post after post referencing our context for the word, that of the TCP handshake. I note today, at the bottom of Googles results I can see a link to Synack.com. I would argue that this either wasn’t there, or was too far down for me to notice at the time.
So you see, the claimant and Nominet expect me to have prior knowledge of a made up word. I didn’t type “Synack” in to Google for the same reason I don’t type “Hamsandwich”, or “localplumber”, because they are not words. I had no prior knowledge of this organisation. I had no intention of interfering with their business, and they could not provide any proof that I had any negative impact on their operations, because there hasn’t been any. I tried to be accommodating by offering to change the look of the site if they felt it too similar (they in no way look alike) or by publishing a disclaimer clarifying that we are not linked; but alas, this dispute has finally come to an end.
I apologise for this long post. This has been going on for some time and when active, it’s been a huge drain on me. I will announce when we have chosen a new name. We have until 13th August 2018 to appeal this decision, which we cannot afford to do (in excess of £3,000 to appeal). If anyone has any ideas for name, please do let us know.