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Queen Not Amused - Internetnz Delighted

Queen Not Amused - Internetnz Delighted

The decision by the World Intellectual Property Organisation's Arbitration and Mediation Center that the domain name "newzealand.com" not be handed to complainant TradeNZ has been hailed by InternetNZ as a decision which upholds the rights of domain name registrants.

In a landmark decision, the WIPO Uniform Dispute Resolution (UDRP) Panel not only ruled that the original registrant of newzealand.com, Virtual Countries, Inc. of the USA, had not made a "bad faith" registration, but that TradeNZ was guilty of an attempted domain name hijacking in making the complaint.

Her Majesty comes into the picture as New Zealand Government Agencies, cannot take cases except in the name of the Queen via the relevant Minister of the Crown. Her Majesty is unlikely to be amused, but whether her reaction will be to the ruling or to the misjudgement in the original complaint is unknown.

TradeNZ based its case on the claim that "NEW ZEALAND is a trade and service mark owned collectively by all NZ citizens and their institutions represented by the Head of State that is to say the Complainant. This trademark is used to identify those goods and services produced by and for citizens, organisations and the State of New Zealand from the goods and services produced by citizens, organisations and/or States of other countries."

The UDRP Panel rejected this argument, noting: "… having read the Response of the New Zealand Government to the WIPO Secretariat’s questionnaire …, the Panel is unanimous in its view that when the Complaint was launched, those responsible for the Complaint, the New Zealand Government, were well aware that a claim to trademark and service mark rights in respect of NEW ZEALAND was baseless. Moreover, that document makes it clear that the New Zealand Government regards the protection of country names (qua country names) as being outside the scope of the Policy and does not approve of the Policy being extended to cover those country names, which are not trademarks."

The Panel further ruled: "The Complaint is dismissed and the Panel upholds the allegation of reverse domain name hijacking."

In October another WIPO UDRP Panel dealt with a complaint by TradeNZ in respect of "newzealand.biz". This case was dealt with under the "sunrise" provisions of the new generic top level domain ".biz" which assessed competing claims for new names. In this case the original registrant iSMER in the UK was found to have registered in "bad faith" and the ruling was "… that newzealand.biz should be transferred to Complainant, Her Majesty the Queen, in right of her Government in New Zealand…"

InternetNZ was concerned by the "newzealand.biz" ruling as it seemed to conform to a series of rulings by UDRP Panels in which small registrants were overwhelmed by the power of the complainants - in this case, Her Majesty the Queen. Her Majesty may have been amused, but no statements were issued.

References: "newzealand.com" ruling - http://arbiter.wipo.int/domains/decisions/html/2002/d2002-0754.html "newzealand.biz" ruling - http://arbiter.wipo.int/domains/decisions/html/2002/dbiz2002-00270.html

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