Ascot Park Polo Club Wins Domain Dispute
Ascot Park Polo Club, located in Sunningdale, has won a legal battle with a tech entrepreneur to keep control of its polo.co.uk domain name.
Ascot Park Polo Club was founded by Peter Grace OBE in the 1970s. In the 1990s Nick Beitner, a polo player and IT expert, joined the club. The club decided to use his skills to tackle the challenges of the internet and allowed him to use the domain polo.co.uk to help the club with setting up a website, marketing and growth. The domain polo.co.uk appeared on all the club’s publicity material and was a crucial part of its image.
He was compensated for his efforts by reduced membership fees and “discounted polo services” – Ascot Park Polo Club
According to the club Nick Beiter transferred the domain to his account in June 2010 without the club’s knowledge. The club had “exclusive” use of the domain before Mr Beitner transferred it to himself. As the club runs its website and email accounts through the domain it was afraid of the potential disruption of services Beitner could cause. According to the club Mr Beitner at one time had temporarily disabled the club’s email functionality which caused them financial damage.
Fast-forward to today Nick is no longer a member of the club but he now claims the polo.co.uk domain is his and always has been. He said he always permitted the club to use his domain name out of the kindness of his heart and for the love of the sport. Nick claims he has never disrupted the club’s email functionality. He simply wishes to use the domain name now to promote another polo club.
Nominet expert, Steve Ormand, decided that the domain is an “abusive” registration in Mr Beitner’s hands.
Both the club’s and Mr Beitner’s versions of events were “largely unsupported” by actual evidence. But there were some “contradictions” in Mr Beitner’s explanations, elements of which were “unconvincing”. It was “most likely” the domain name was first registered in 1996 in the name of the club. And it was clear Mr Beitner had transferred it into his own name in June 2010, and again in June 2013, without the club’s knowledge. – Nominet Expert Steve Ormand
Steve Ormand also found that the club, not Mr Beitner, was most likely responsible for paying for the domain name’s registration and renewals and that the club had “exclusive” use of the domain before Mr Beitner transferred it to himself.
As a result Nominet Expert Steve Ormand ordered that the domain polo.co.uk should be transferred to the Ascot Park Polo Club.