April 23, 2006

Australia: Review of the relationship between trade marks and business names, company names and domain names

The Australian Advisory Council on Intellectual Property recently released a report on the issue of the relationship between TM and business names, company names and domain names.
To the Council, "the two most significant issues regarding domain names are:
• bad faith registration of domain names, whereby one party deliberately and unlawfully benefits by registering a domain name containing the other’s trade mark, business name or company name; and
• a public misconception that domain name registrars check for existing prior rights, such as registered trade marks, when registering a domain name."
It writes that "The Australian domain name industry has an important role to play in alerting domain name registrants of the possibility of infringement and of the need to undertake clearance searches before selecting a usable domain name."
The evidence collected for the report "suggests that bad faith registration of domain names has increased in recent years" but the Council "is satisfied the UDRP and auDRP have been successful at dealing with the problem."
Though this report focuses on the Australian situation, it also takes into account the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, China and Hong Kong experiences.

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