Domain name masterplan goes awry

The headline-grabbing plan to register the names of prominent New Zealanders as Internet domains and put them up for tender has been canned. Electronic Media has cancelled all 230 domains, including lomu.co.nz, shipley.co.nz and brash.co.nz, and reached a settlement with the national Domain registry, Domainz, over the unpaid bill for the names.

The headline-grabbing plan to register the names of prominent New Zealanders as Internet domains and put them up for tender has been canned.

Electronic Media has cancelled all 230 names, including lomu.co.nz, shipley.co.nz and brash.co.nz, and reached a settlement with the national Domain registry, Domainz, over the unpaid bill for the names.

Company chief John Commins has gone on holiday, but a spokesman at Electronic Media told @IDG that "we ended up cancelling all of them, the whole project. There just wasn't enough interest."

The names, which had been registered via Southern Internet in Christchurch, would have cost the company more than $20,000 in charges. The spokesman said the company has settled with Domainz.

Patrick O'Brien, chief executive of Domainz, says he was approached by the company last month.

"I don't know the background to their reasons, but they came to me and said we'd like to cancel those names, we realise a substantial amount of money is outstanding," says O'Brien. "And from that point we worked out a negotiated settlement and the names were cancelled."

The names will not now be available for registration by anyone else until they are out of Domainz' mandatory 60-day holding period for cancelled names. O'Brien says the registry may change its rules to provide for a faster release in such situations.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's most prolific domain name investor, Auckland doctor John Walker, may soon run into some strife with Apple Computer.

Although most of Walker's hundreds of domain names, now registered to Anasazi, are either generic or somewhat cryptic, the name macintosh.co.nz may fall foul of a worldwide push by Apple to defend its brand.

The name was registered in July 1997. Walker has since told @IDG that registering trademarks was pointless given recent court decisions.

Bronwyn Sinclair, marketing manager for Apple's local distributor, Renaissance, says all such issues must be handled by the computer company's Australian subsidiary or by Apple corporate. She says there are a number of other company names in New Zealand currently being examined by Apple.

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