New Domain Name Dispute Resolution Procedure

Domain names within the .nz space are registered on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, when the name is registered, there is no enquiry into whether the registrant is entitled to use and register the domain name.

The Office of the Domain Name Commissioner has developed and will implement a Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) for when disputes arise about who should be the registrant of a domain name.

The DRS system can be utilized by anyone who considers that a domain name registration in the .nz space to be unfair. The whole process is completed within strict time frames and all documents and forms can be filed online.

Complainants must demonstrate that:

(a) they have rights to a name which is identical or similar to the domain name in dispute; and
(b) the registration of the domain name by the current registrant is unfair.

The ownership of a trade mark registration identical to the domain name is likely to be sufficient to establish the necessary rights to the name.

Under the DRS policy, "unfair registration" means a Domain Name which either:

a) was registered or otherwise acquired in a manner which, at the time when the registration or acquisition took place, took unfair advantage of or was unfairly detrimental to the Complainant's Rights; OR
b) has been, or is likely to be, used in a manner which took unfair advantage of or was unfairly detrimental to the Complainant's Rights.

The onus is 'on the balance of probabilities' and the complainant must satisfy the Mediator or Expert that both factors are present.

The DRS operates three tiers of resolution. The first level is informal mediation (applicable only if there is a response to a complaint). The second level of resolution is Expert Determination. Thirdly, it is possible to appeal a decision to a panel of three Experts appointed to make a final decision. The Office of the Domain Name Commissioner has attracted the services of well qualified and experienced Mediators and Experts including a number of Queen's Counsel.

Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions regarding the registration of domain names or consider an existing registration in the .nz space to be an "unfair registration".

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