ISOCNZ ponders legal action

The Internet Society of NZ (IsocNZ) is deciding whether to take action against an Australian company, Rare Domains, for registering the domain name isocnz.co.nz.

The Internet Society of NZ (IsocNZ) is deciding whether to take action against an Australian company, Rare Domains, for registering the domain name isocnz.co.nz – not to be confused with the real IsocNZ’s isocnz.org.nz.

From that site, the company is offering New Zealand and overseas domain-name registration services at a price of $US65 for two years (over $NZ154) contrasting with the $NZ30 setup fee and $NZ44 annual fee charged by the real IsocNZ's Domainz subsidiary. This would amount to $118 for two years.

“We have some concern,” says IsocNZ chairman and intellectual property lawyer Peter Dengate-Thrush. “We are discussing what the level of concern is, what options are open to us, how much it might cost and what the likely outcome will be.”

The society is likely to make a decision on whether to proceed by late in the week, he says.

Though Rare Domains is based in Australia (Frankton, Victoria), the registration was done in New Zealand, Dengate-Thrush notes, so action under New Zealand law will still be possible.

“There are a wealth of remedies available if their registration or use of the name is judged to cause deception or confusion,” he says.

The Australian site has a link on its home page annotated "If you arrived here expecting the Internet Society of NZ, click here," but there have been cases in the bricks-and-mortar world where a similar referral has been judged insufficient as a defence to a charge of misrepresentation.

IsocNZ intends to quit the isocnz.org.nz domain in the near term anyway. It is rebranding itself, and will leave the old name to a body that wishes to be an official chapter of the international Internet Society. IsocNZ has never taken that course, though members and the society’s ruling council have discussed it at length.

This does not remove the reason for possible action, Dengate-Thrush says. “We want to ensure that the new group gets something valuable,” and any conflict would be likely to reduce the name’s value.

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