[DNS] Rights to *.com.au Pty Ltd?

[DNS] Rights to *.com.au Pty Ltd?

From: Paul Montgomery <monty§knapp.com.au>
Date: Thu, 20 Aug 1998 13:36:32 +1000
I'm researching a story for September/October Internet World magazine on
start-ups that use their site name as their trading name, and I was told
a fascinating little story which may or may not be apocryphal. Make of
it what you will.

A search on the ASIC site for registered business names which contain
the string "com.au Pty Ltd" returns too many to list over the Web, but
there are only 33 names of proprietary limited companies (i.e. with an
ACN) that do, and only half a dozen which end with "net.au". These
domain-name-as-company-name companies include Connect.com.au,
Travel.com.au, Greengrocer.com.au, Sydney.com.au and Aussie.com.au, with
about 60% of the companies actually having sites up and running (17 of
the 27 I checked).

The story is, so I was told, that when you register a company name, you
obtain some rights to the use of that name, including names that sound
like yours. The usual rule is that a name has to have two words that are
different in order to be said to be unlike another. The problem is that
when this rule applies to domain-name-as-company-names, there is only
one word different (whatever's before the first dot).

If this was tested in court, it may well be proven that the first
company to register *.com.au owned rights to any company name or RBN
that had ".com.au" after it, due to it looking so similar. I think this
means that Connect (their ACN is the earliest, and I'm guessing they are
sequentially allocated) technically could sue the other 32 name holders,
and maybe stop anyone trading as *.com.au.

Is this fair dinkum, or just a tall tale? It sounds like there are holes
big enough to drive Mack trucks through, but the law is an ass and I
don't dismiss any silly supposition when it comes to the murky,
byzantine world of DNS law.

BTW, I heard one of them who had the foresight to register one
particular [generic industry name].com.au domain four years ago has now
been offered $A5 million for it. The guy who got $US2.5 million for
altavista.com was gypped!

BTW (2), the informal DNS meeting at the Internet World show did go
ahead, with about ten ppl popping in and out, but it is all off the
record so I won't post details.

-- 
Paul Montgomery, features editor for Image & Data Manager and assistant
editor for Internet World. Lives like a JavaBean. Go Socceroos in WC02!
mailto:monty&#167;knapp.com.au  Tel: +61 2 9318 2644.  Fax: +61 2 9310 4608.
  "Just like the ocean, always in love with the moon / It’s overflowing
  now, inside you." Jeff Buckley, Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk.
Received on Thu Aug 20 1998 - 14:32:20 UTC

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