New Zealand businesses could risk an expensive dispute if they fail to reserve their .nz domain name before 30 March.
Registration for the new domains has been open since September last year, holds the name for the registered owner of a .co.nz or a .net.nz domain name up until the end of March this year. After this date .nz domain names will be registrable by anyone, worldwide.
Ben Cain, an associate at James and Wells who specialises in domain names, says that organisations that do not register their company name under the new system risk having the domains purchased by squatters or even competitors, resulting in an expensive resolution process.
“The costs of deciding a domain name complaint lie at the feet of the complainant,” he said. “If a registrant does not file a response to a complaint, a complainant can be out of pocket about five to seven thousand dollars, if they seek professional assistance, before they’ve got their domain name back.”
The original dispute resolution process for the .nz domains involved the Domain Name Commission deciding who would be able to register the .nz name if an agreement could not be reached. Now, where one organisation holds the .co.nz domain name, and another owns the .net.nz domain name, the parties must decide amongst themselves which company could register the shorter .nz domain. Problems may arise where no agreement is reached.
“In my view, the Domain Name Commission has taken the easy way out of getting involved in such genuine disputes by removing the ability for an Expert to decide who should get the registration, if anyone. Personally, I think that’s a great shame because I know of at least one business who is involved in this sort of dispute and there is nothing they can do about it,” he said. “The difficulty with the conflict process for .nz domain names is that if two registrants can’t agree who is to have the .nz registration, then the domain name will not be registrable at all.”