Sidestep has finally got it hands on the UK domain name for the brand after a long-running and increasingly fraught dispute with its former owner.
The travel search site paid an undisclosed fee to the previous registered owner, an individual by the name of Alan Ward Collins, for the .co.uk domain this week, Travolution can reveal.
The Sidestep.co.uk site will begin the transition from its current holding page status to the full UK & Ireland edition of the search engine “within weeks”, European managing director Kevin Eyres confirmed.
The dispute is believed to have started around 12 months ago when Sidestep attempted to make contact with Ward Collins through domain name provider UK2.net in an attempt to obtain the .co.uk URL.
Ward Collins is understood not have replied to any of the approaches from Sidestep in the first part of 2006, ahead of Sidestep’s official launch in the UK.
The US-owned site stepped up its attempts to take control of the domain after a series of incidents in September, shortly after the company’s UK launch, when visitors to the Sidestep.co.uk site were greeted with UK2.net-framed versions of Opodo and Sidestep’s rivals Cheapflights and TravelSupermarket, without the knowledge of any of the companies involved.
The activity prompted Sidestep to enlist a team of lawyers to issue an official domain claim document arguing that it should be the rightful owner of the .co.uk domain.
Negotiations behind the scenes are believed to have taken around five months to complete, although Sidestep this week it wished the process could have been resolved earlier.
Eyres said: “We are happy that this is now behind us. It is right that it took such a process to resolve but we feel it could have been sorted out sooner.”
Having separate domains for the UK market would help ensure search engine optimisation is easier to coordinate across both domain names, Eyres said.
“We also wanted to show we are dedicated to the UK market,” Eyres said.
Ward Collins, who owned the .co.uk domain since March 2000, was not available for comment.