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OFT warns over misleading business names

Could impact domain names

8:20 am on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Article here: [bbc.co.uk...]

The regulator said that it wanted to prevent names used by commercial firms that could mislead people looking for free, impartial, charitable or public sector assistance.

It also wanted firms to avoid misleading customers about the services on offer, the cost of these services, the geographic scope of the business or the relationship with other businesses.

The article mentions the use of the world "helpline" which was banned from use in a finance related company name & domain name.

Interesting implications for anyone who has snapped up keyword domains over the years. It's unlikely pure information sites would be impacted (advice monetised by ads), but perhaps affiliate sites could be treading on thin ice as there's a commerical intent there.

Also, it could bring up a legal issue with MFA websites that are clearly designed to channel people (searchers) via low quality content to ads for financial gain.

In all likelihood, it's just focusing on brick and mortar businesses right now though.
2:13 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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From the article:

[The OFT] is particularly worried about firms selling loans or debt advice that imply they are charities or government agencies.

Aren't they targeting what many would call "predatory practices" and isn't that exactly what the predators and profiteers do, that is, pretend to be "kindly" or "official"?

I think where this could get sticky is when ad-feeds post contextual ads on sites that have little or no control over what ads get displayed on the sites.

I suspect affliate sites would be more vulnerable, especially ones that create - by domain selection or otherwise - "the appearance" that they are affliated with the .gov or other eleemosynary agency.

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