Radio advertising for IEDR stated:
“MVO: Hmmm, how do you know a website is really Irish? Does it need to say click me I’m Irish somewhere. Be designed in green. Play traditional Irish music on the homepage. Feature an Irish cailín with red hair winking at you. In fact nothing says your website is Irish like having a .ie at the end of your web address. .ie tells the world you’re Irish and tells Irish people that you’re local. Every .ie website has a proven authentic connection with Ireland and .ie is one of the most secure domains in the world. If you’re an Irish business .ie is the right address for you. .ie the official web address for Ireland.”
The complainant, an Irish based business owner, attempted to purchase a .ie domain name, however, he found that the domain name had already been purchased by a UK business that, he said, had no presence in the Republic of Ireland (1) . The complainant considered that the claims in the advertisement that having a .ie domain showed Irish people that you are local or that you are Irish was misleading in view of the fact that a UK business was able to purchase a .ie domain.
(1). The complainant had provided the Executive with the domain name he wished to purchase. Searches using the domain name identified that the company was based in Northern Ireland.
The advertiser stated that the intention of their advertising was to convey the benefits for IEDR businesses in a construct that was engaging through light hearted scenarios, targeting businesses in Ireland. They considered that the complaint had been based on incorrect interpretation rather than the facts presented in their advertising. They said that they had three radio advertisements and they highlighted the following claims across all three; having a .ie domain tells the world your Irish and tells Irish people you’re local; every .ie website has a proven, authentic connection with Ireland; and finally, .ie is one of the most secure domains in the world. They said that while they did not state in their advertising that a .ie domain says you are dealing with an Irish operation, this was actually the case.
They referred to their registration policies which stated that: “All applicants for a .ie domain name who are not based in the 32 counties of Ireland, must demonstrate a real and substantive connection with Ireland (with the exception of those applying by means of a European Community Trademark).
Acceptable documentation demonstrating trade or commercial activity includes:
• Copies of invoices showing trade to or from Ireland;
• Product or service brochures showing an intention to trade in Ireland;
• A signed letter on headed paper from a bank manager, firm of chartered accountants, registered auditors, tax consultants (where the tax advisor identification number is displayed), or solicitors confirming the applicants trade with Ireland.”
They also said that all computers connected to the internet have unique numerical addresses to make sure that information is delivered to the right place. The domain name system changes these numerical addresses of computers into user-friendly domain names to make it easier to find the information you are looking for on the internet. In the same way in which ‘Ireland’ as a postal address and the ‘353’ phone prefix show where you are located, the internet address of .ie lets people know that you are based in, or from, Ireland.
They said that to register for a .ie domain a stringent process had to be followed which ensured a connection to Ireland. They said that .com domains could be registered by anyone as long as that name wasn’t already taken. However, in contrast, .ie requires a connection with the island of Ireland and a legitimate claim to the chosen name to register your domain. They said that every .ie registration was checked by their IEDR Registration Services Team to ensure that it had both a connection with Ireland and a legitimate claim to the domain name. This way a .ie domain name lets customers know that you are based in, or from, or have a connection to Ireland, is managed to provide their customers with the security that the company is who they say they are.
Complaint not upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted the registration process for a .ie domain name and that companies based in the 32 counties of Ireland were eligible for a .ie domain name. The Committee also noted that as part of the registration process, applicants must show that there was a connection between their business and the chosen domain name. The Committee noted that the company who purchased the domain name requested by the complainant had complied with the registration process.
In assessing the statements “.ie tells the World you’re Irish and tells Irish people that you’re local”, the Committee considered a reasonable interpretation was that such statements implied that the user of the domain was an Irish business who operated on the island of Ireland. In the circumstances they did not consider that the advertising was misleading.
No further action required.