YOUR DOMAIN NAME - USE IT OR LOSE IT!

Be aware of the dangers of registering an Internet domain name and then not actually using it.

A recent domain name dispute concerned two businesses which both had a long history of using - and acquiring rights to - the name "Garden Master"; one business in relation to gardening tools and fertilisers, and the other in relation to gardening services. Despite the fact that the services business had the prior rights (a full 30 years before the tools business registered the name as a trademark), its registration in 2007 of the domain name www.gardenmaster.co.za was reversed by the Adjudicator in favour of the complainant.

A key factor behind the decision was that the registrant had not made any actual use of the domain name, having registered it because "our company name had to be protected". However, held the Adjudicator: "The purpose of a domain registration is not to protect rights - the purpose is to enable e-commerce".

Non-use of a domain name will not automatically be fatal - that will depend on the facts in each case. Thus the decision in this dispute rested at least in part on other factors peculiar to it - the registrant had acquiesced in the other business using the trading name in its own sphere of operation, it had offered to part with the domain name for "consideration in excess of its out-of-pocket expenses", and it failed to tender any explanation for its non-use of the domain name.

But why take the chance? Don't just sit on your domain name - use it!

Recent Articles for November 2009; Source: www.dotnews.co.za
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