Swedish Regulators Say The Word 'bank' Not Allowed In Any Domain Names... Except If You're A Bank

from the no-bankrate.se? dept

It's quite common for regulators around the world to insist that no company can call itself a "bank" unless it's an official, regulated bank. In fact, that's often why you see companies (including holding companies of real banks) that use the word "banc" instead of "bank." It's to get around such regulations. However, it looks like regulators in Sweden have gone a step further, telling the Swedish domain registrar, that it can't even allow any domain name to be sold with "bank" in it, unless it's sold to an official bank (found via Michael Scott). Of course, the whole thing seems ridiculous. There are plenty of legitimate reasons why a site might want to use the word "bank" in a domain name without being a bank themselves. A domain could be a site about banks, a service site like Bankrate or simply contain a surname like Banks -- which shouldn't confuse too many folks.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Mark Jones, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 2:11am

    Does this include...

    ...spermbanks?

     

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  2.  
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    Rabbit80, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 3:16am

    In the UK we have a music retailer known as Banks Music - its been going since 1756...

     

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  3.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 3:25am

    Truly, a Wunch of Bankers

    That is all.

     

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  4.  
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    Sheinen, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 3:36am

    There's a Bank Fashion too! They have 6 stores in the greater London area alone!

     

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  5.  
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    Simon, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 3:56am

    Easily Confused

    This is a great idea to avoid confusion. A few years ago I deposited some cash in a river bank. Imagine my dismay on finding out that it wasn't a legit financial institution. That damned otter looked so convincing too.

     

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  6.  
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    Digital Protector (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 3:57am

    Re: Easily Confused

    That's why you should stick with bears.

     

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  7.  
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    Richard, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 4:16am

    Re: Truly, a Wunch of Bankers

    I came up with that collective noun back in the 80's its my copyright I've got witnesses I'm going to sue you (O bother you say copyright has an exemption for independent creation so I've got to prove you got it from me - should have patented it instead - uh what it would have expired by now..)

    (Chorus)

    WE NEED STRONGER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAWS

    ps we a have a tv programme here in the UK about financial matters - its called working lunch - Spoonerises to Lurking Wunch ...quite appropriate.

     

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  8.  
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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 4:17am

    Hmm, probably a good thing for Willowbank Raceway that they're located here in Qld rather than in Sweden!

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 4:21am

    So you get your domain name outside of Sweden.

     

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  10.  
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    Michael Lockyear (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 4:26am

    What a bunch of bankers!

     

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  11.  
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    Matt, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 4:49am

    Re: Re: Easily Confused

    But as we all know thanks to Stephen Colbert, bears are godless killing machines

     

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  12.  
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    Tor (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 4:54am

    Not entirely correct

    That's not how I read it. What the regulator says is that the domain registrar needs to flag all domain names containing "bank" for manual approval in order to guarantee that they are in accordance with the bank laws. Now if someone wants to register the geographical name "Banka" or "bloodbank" there is no confusion and I cannot see why this would not get approved. If you want to register "bankwithlowestrates.se" you may need to go through some kind of screening first.

    And actually if you read the document that Fältström refers to it's quite clear that the regular makes a less strict interpretation. In one place it says that "bank" in the meaning "storage" (as in "bloodbank" I guess) is to be accepted. In another place it says that compound words containing "bank" and cannot lead to misunderstandings need not be approved by the third party that the registrar will otherwise consult about what bank domain names are ok.

    So except that they didn't mention personal names and geographical places (or other different semantics of the word) I cannot see any big problem with this. From a practical point of view of the registrar it seems easier to test these cases after the registration has been done though - like is done in many other cases.

    All this said, I'd like to point out that Fältström is normally right and as one of the Swedish government's advisors on IT issues it's interesting to follow what he has to say. Not the least since he is very critical of the bad way data retention is about to be implemented, and the other day he also questioned the court order that told an ISP to block access to the Pirate Bay.

    With an advisor like him it's difficult to understand how the government can make so many mistakes, but maybe they don't listen enough.

     

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  13.  
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    Tor (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 4:54am

    Not entirely correct

    That's not how I read it. What the regulator says is that the domain registrar needs to flag all domain names containing "bank" for manual approval in order to guarantee that they are in accordance with the bank laws. Now if someone wants to register the geographical name "Banka" or "bloodbank" there is no confusion and I cannot see why this would not get approved. If you want to register "bankwithlowestrates.se" you may need to go through some kind of screening first.

    And actually if you read the document that Fältström refers to it's quite clear that the regular makes a less strict interpretation. In one place it says that "bank" in the meaning "storage" (as in "bloodbank" I guess) is to be accepted. In another place it says that compound words containing "bank" and cannot lead to misunderstandings need not be approved by the third party that the registrar will otherwise consult about what bank domain names are ok.

    So except that they didn't mention personal names and geographical places (or other different semantics of the word) I cannot see any big problem with this. From a practical point of view of the registrar it seems easier to test these cases after the registration has been done though - like is done in many other cases.

    All this said, I'd like to point out that Fältström is normally right and as one of the Swedish government's advisors on IT issues it's interesting to follow what he has to say. Not the least since he is very critical of the bad way data retention is about to be implemented, and the other day he also questioned the court order that told an ISP to block access to the Pirate Bay.

    With an advisor like him it's difficult to understand how the government can make so many mistakes, but maybe they don't listen enough.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 4:59am

    Seems odd, where's Sweden's freedom of speech argument now?

     

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  15.  
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    Tor (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 5:05am

    Re:

    Compare it to trademarks. They do this in order to avoid confusion, not in order to silence anyone. And it's quite clear that many semantically different domain names containing "bank" will be allowed - contrary to what has been stated here and there.

    One can of course take issue with the approval procedure, but while that is of course important for the registrar it doesn't seem that big a deal for the rest of us. And the .SE foundation has high requirements to be transparent about their internal procedures.

     

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  16.  
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    Harshal (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 5:27am

    Blood banks?

    How about some organization giving information on blood banks or sperm banks?

     

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  17.  
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    Tor (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 5:29am

    Re: Blood banks?

    They would be permitted to get domain names since they use the word "bank" in the meaning "storage" (as opposed to financial institution).

    Btw. I'm sorry about the double post above. Maybe a moderator can remove one of the posts.

     

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  18.  
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    Feldie47, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 6:05am

    Banks?

    Ernie Banks?
    Blood Bank?
    Banks of the Mississippi?
    Bank on it?

    Whew....

    How about Banque, Baenk, Banke, Banck, Bancke?

    I'm banking on this insanity coming to an end.

     

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  19.  
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    mjb5406 (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 6:09am

    Too bad...

    ...that the wedish word for "bank" is "bank".

    What about blood banks, sperm banks (as another poster noted), etc? Ridiculous.

     

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  20.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 6:21am

    Re: Banks?

    "How about Banque, Baenk, Banke, Banck, Bancke?"

    You forgot Bernanke, Binkey and the Brain, and the Bank Eyed Peas...

     

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  21.  
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    minijedimaster (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 6:22am

    Re: Does this include...

    From here on out any sperm banks in Sweden are now sperm bancs.

     

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  22.  
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    WammerJammer (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 6:24am

    Swedish Regulators Say The Word 'bank' Not Allowed In Any Domain Names... Except If You're A Bank

    Butttttt. My name is Lord Jim Montebank
    No web sites for me. Man what happened to the Dutch and the Swedish. Nobody pays any attention to them so they make up stupid laws and interfere in peoples lives.

     

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  23.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 6:24am

    .....Wait a minute

    "It's quite common for regulators around the world to insist that no company can call itself a "bank" unless it's an official, regulated bank."

    So THAT'S why the Federal Reserve System doesn't include the word bank! It isn't regulated! It all makes sense now!

    On a separate note: what the sweet holy fucknuts in a paperbag owned by Wynona Rider...you mean to tell me this is how international banks have been behaving when they're REGULATED?

     

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  24.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 6:25am

    Re: Re: Does this include...

    "From here on out any sperm banks in Sweden are now sperm bancs."

    Or cum dumpsters....either one is fine.

     

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  25.  
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    Tor (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 7:30am

    It's interesting to see how many of those who comment here seem to be more interesting in ranting than in the actual facts...
    I have already pointed out that the problem here is merely that of an awkward screen procedure for the registrar. There is no general prohibition of "bank" in domain names for others than financial institutions.

     

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  26.  
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    Captain Canuck (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 7:32am

    In b4

    Carlton Banks

     

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  27.  
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    Captain Canuck (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 7:32am

    In b4

    Carlton Banks

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    PRMan, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 8:16am

    I'm off...

    Off to register CreditUnion.se ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 8:45am

    Damn, Damn, Damn...

    There goes the plans for my new Swiss AlpenHorn music site, BlabAnkle.ch

    Good domain names are so hard to get these days.

     

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  30.  
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    asdf fdas, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 10:39am

    What if I wanted to register "BanKillerWhales"?

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 11:12am

    When is someone going to open ThePirateBank.org ?

     

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  32.  
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    Danny (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 11:19am

    Bank has many definitions

    There used to be a bookstore in St. Louis called "Left Bank Books"

    Hmmm, domain name is owned by a Seattle bookstore.
    http://www.leftbankbooks.com

     

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  33.  
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    Jason (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Does this include...

    ..."www.fnbisnotabank.whatever"

     

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  34.  
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    Hidden Force, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    Re:

    I guess that kills any plans that Jos. A. Bank's Clothiers might have had to expand into Sweden.

    Drat, now that I think about it, it also kills my lifelong wish to start up that pool-related website that I always wanted to start called bankshot.se.

    I guess it doesn't affect the registrant of riverbank.se, though, since it's already registered (abeit without any website behind it).

     

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  35.  
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    Lisae Boucher (profile), Aug 28th, 2009 @ 2:56pm

    Funny...

    The Dutch word "Bank" can be translated to a few things. Of course, it could be that financial institute. But it can also be a couch. So a shop in the Netherlands that sells couches would probably want a domain name with the word "bank" in it. It's also the name of a more or less flat layer of sand or earth or even a type of clouds.

     

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  36.  
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    Michael, Aug 29th, 2009 @ 1:43am

    Bank

    What strikes me as funny is in some parts of the U.S. there is a slang use of Bank.

    "Put it in the bank"

    means to ejaculate in an anus.

     

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  37.  
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    Lord Bankcroft, Aug 29th, 2009 @ 1:56am

    Confused

    Anyway, regulators are not stupid, they are sweden ;)

     

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  38.  
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    Tor (profile), Aug 29th, 2009 @ 5:38am

    Re: Funny...

    "It's also the name of a more or less flat layer of sand or earth or even a type of clouds."

    Yep, it's exactly the same in swedish. But you could still register "sandbank.se" or "molnbank.se" (cloud) since the regulator (PTS) clearly said that compound words that don't cause confusion are not affected by this decision.

    Why doesn't anyone bother to check the facts. The real story here seems to be that of an awkard domain name approval procedure - not that lots of "bank" domains are forbidden - they aren't.

     

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  39.  
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    Juegos, Aug 29th, 2009 @ 10:10am

    It's a very good decision, too many phishing attempts these days and too many trying to fool the people.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Matt, Aug 29th, 2009 @ 5:27pm

    I own pyrabank.com. I'm Banking on success of pyrabang.com

    I'd be in trouble if I was in Sweden. Pyrabang.com is a member supported free media company.

    I'm good with the domain for now, and will eventually give it away to pyrabang.com owners. It is a gentlemens agreement.

    If I was in Sweden, this would be another serious complication. Can anyone, including Pyrabang.com.se own Pyrabank.com.se ?

    It is clear that Swedish "authorities" had the best intentions in putting together this law. Prevent confusion etc.

    It is also known that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    There is also a law of unintended consequences.

    Think about it before you condone more government interventions.

     

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  41.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh, Aug 29th, 2009 @ 6:54pm

    Trademark on the word "bank"

     

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  42.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh, Aug 29th, 2009 @ 6:55pm

    Trademark on the word "bank"

    So if I write a story about fishing, "On the River Bank", I will be in trouble with Swedish banks?
    Sheesh!

     

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  43.  
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    Betty Hiland, Sep 8th, 2009 @ 6:40am

    Bank Names For Sale

    We have many bank names for sale at promotingtulsa.com. We do not pretend to be a bank but consider banking domain names to be internet real estate, our names are reasonably priced. We are the first time purchasers of these addresses and have every right to buy and sell them.
    Betty Hiland

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
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    Tor (profile), Sep 28th, 2009 @ 5:30am

    After a petition against this was signed by 8000 people the regulation authority backs down and says that no pre-screening will no longer be necessary.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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