The tiny South Pacific nation of Niue has filed suit in Stockholm, claiming that one of Sweden’s biggest internet companies took over its domain name without permission.
This story traces back to 2003, when affiliates of an American company called IUSN offered Niue a deal – free wireless internet for all, in exchange for the right to manage Niue’s country code, dot nu.
The current prime minister, Toke Talagi, told ABC Australia’s Pacific Beat they got fleeced. “The internet services were limited, they were slow, they were pretty much useless,” he said.
And as for .nu?
“We were clueless to what the value of those things were.”
At the dawn of the internet, every country was assigned a two-character code, most pretty obvious - .nz, for example. Some had hidden value.
According to the ABC, an American start-up has paid Niue’s neighbor, Tuvalu, more than 50 million dollars over the past 12 years for the right to sell its “dot TV.”
And, if you pronounce the letters nu – nu means “now” in Swedish and a lot of other northern European languages.
In 2013, Sweden’s Internet Foundation obtained the rights to .nu from IUSN, and it currently manages about 400,000 .nu domain users.
Niue’s lawsuit seeks recovery of all the revenue that the Swedish company’s received, somewhere between 20 and 30 million dollars. IIS denies it’s in breach of the law, and argues that since so many .nu domains are registered in Sweden, it’s now an essential part of that country’s internet infrastructure.