Charles Russell and IT firm launch domain name service

Elizabeth Davidson

LONDON commercial practice Charles Russell has teamed up with a specialist Internet consultancy to offer its IT clients a domain name registration and search service.

The service – outsourced by Charles Russell to consultancy Kiosk – is designed to help clients setting up a Web site avoid the protracted and expensive litigation associated with domain name disputes.

For £125 Kiosk will conduct a search to ensure the domain name clients want to register has not already been registered by another organisation. It will then register the name for the clients.

Although the service is primarily aimed at clients who are just about to set up a Web site, they can have registered but unused domain names stored on their behalf until the Web site has been constructed.

Robin Bynoe, the partner in charge of Charles Russell's IP/IT department, said: "It makes sense for us to provide this service because we understand the implications of protecting brand names, and this is similar to a lawyer carrying out a trade mark search."

The service is believed to be only the second of its type. In 1995 Aldershot firm Herrington Carmichael became the first law firm to offer a service setting up and checking domain names.

Tom Lowry, the solicitor in charge of IT at the three-partner firm, said it saw Internet law as a "growth area" and launched the service at the suggestion of acquaintances in the US.

But although it is rare for law firms to package and market a domain name registration and search service, there is evidence that more and more practices are referring clients to Internet protection specialists.

London-based Internet consultancy NetSearchers recently wrote to leading law firms urging them to refer clients to it who wish to establish domain names. Director Nick Wood said it had worked with 16 of the top 20 firms. It conducts domain name searches, checking worldwide or within certain countries for similar names to those being set up.

Internet specialist Tony Willoughby, of Willoughby & Partners, said: "It is a good idea for anyone wanting to register a domain name to carry out a search first, but there is no reason why this service should be better provided by a lawyer than by anybody else."