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Resolving Domain Name Disputes

We are often required to assist our clients in domain name disputes. These disputes usually occur when a person holds the licence to a particular domain name and another person challenges that registration due to a belief of entitlement. In other words, where there are competing interests in a domain name.

Domain names are issued on a ‘first in, first serve’ basis, provided that the party wishing to register the domain name (the Registrant) meets certain eligibility criteria. To be eligible to register a .com.au domain name, a person must have a genuine Australian connection to the domain name being registered.

If you feel that another party has registered a domain name that you should be the rightful registrant of, there are numerous avenues that you may pursue. First, you may wish to contact the other party in an attempt to resolve the matter. If unsuccessful, then there are official dispute resolution processes that you may rely on. If it is a .com.au domain name in dispute, then the process prescribed by the Australian Domain Name Administrator (AUDA) will be used. Disputes involving top-level domain names such as .com domain names are resolved via processes prescribed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Pod Legal has had been successful in obtaining domain names via both these organisations on behalf of our clients.

A proactive step that you may wish to take to avoid disappointment is to register variations of your domain name. For example, if your domain name is wesellwidgets.com.au, you should also consider registering wesellwidgets.net.au, wesellwidgets.net and wesellwidgets.com. This is known as a defensive domain name strategy and it prevents a third party from registering those domain names and possibly, infringing upon your intellectual property rights.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or for further information on this topic.