An Auckland Internet company has twice registered the Internet domain relating to billboard company Oggi Advertising to non-existent people — including one Elliot Oggi of the University of West Ontario, says Oggi's Auckland chief.
Oggi is suing Internet Marketing, Russell Dwyer and Cameron Mckenzie for return of the domain oggi.co.nz — with the Internet Society's registry business Domainz named as fourth defendant.
Oggi managing director Gordon Frykberg says his company had been developing an Internet presence with "a reputable Wellington company".
He was approached by Internet Marketing, which "wanted to handle all our Internet business. And in return for that they would release the name back to us."
The domain was first registered last December, and its details were subsequently altered on April 21. It is currently registered to Combined Concepts, in the name of "Elliot Oggi, Department of Physics University of Western Ontario London, Ontario Canada".
Elliot Oggi does not exist, according to Frykberg, and neither did the previous name holder, Ron Tuit.
"We have phoned the University of Western Ontario and there is no such person," says Frykberg. "You have to put this into the context of the fact that these people initially registered the name under an alias as well. They registered it under the name Ron Tuit. That is an alias for Cameron Bruce McKenzie."
McKenzie is a member of the South American music group Kantuta, and is associated with Internet Marketing, which sponsors the Kantuta Web site. Dwyer is one of the moderators of the Usenet newsgroup nz.biz.misc.
Domainz has, since its inception in 1996, declined to police name applications, and has rejected only those which are offensive or do not fit within some special second-level domains, such as .iwi. CEO Patrick O'Brien says Domainz will vigorously defend the suit, but welcomes the fact that a court case may set "some precedents we have been lacking here in New Zealand".
O'Brien warns that any move to make Domainz responsible for trademark and copyright issues would "change the economics of our business".
Frykberg says his company has "no beef with the Internet Society washing its hands — but its guidelines are fairly specific and do say that [name holders] need to be real people.
"We believe Internet Marketing has behaved unethically from the outset, and its latest foray into selling the name to a fictitious character in Canada is, in our mind, making a mockery of the law."
Internet Marketing's Dwyer says he does not know who Elliot Oggi is, and "the only contact that we've had is with a guy called Ron Tuit".
Dwyer says he does not know who Tuit is either. He told Computerworld late last week he could have an announcement on the issue shortly.
O'Brien notes that as far as Domainz is concerned, "when people register names, they indemnify us in terms of any issues with those names. We contacted [Internet Marketing] a couple of weeks ago to put them on notice that there was potential for a court case and to make them aware that they have indemnified us against issues arising."