The New Zealand High Court last week ordered a company trading in domain names to deregister the domain name qantas.co.nz.
Qantas Group General Manager e-Commerce, Paul Shepanski, described the decision as a significant one for Qantas as it is committed to protecting its name and goodwill in cyberspace.
“Just as we have vigorously protected our brand and trade mark rights to date, we will continue to do so in new global business media such as the Internet,” he added.
Mr Shepanski said the Domain Name Company Limited had registered the domain name qantas.co.nz in 1996, and last year offered to sell it to the airline. He said that although Qantas initially entertained negotiations, it was ultimately left with little choice but to commence proceedings to claim the name.
In his finding in the High Court of New Zealand, Justice Anderson noted that Qantas was one of the best known names in its industry in the world, and that vast goodwill attached to the name.
Justice Anderson said: “... the deliberate blocking of the lawful exploitation of goodwill by Qantas through registration effectuated for that purpose or with that consequence is a fraudulent appropriation of part of the goodwill attaching to [the Qantas] name.
“The most likely purpose in registering the name of such a well known entity is to block that entity`s lawful exploitation of its goodwill through the use of the internet.
“It is important to appreciate, of course, that the domain name is the gateway to exploitation and the defendant`s registration has blocked the gate. Such registration is ... an instrument of fraud.”
Justice Anderson also found that the defendant was guilty of passing off and also guilty of, in trade, engaging in conduct that was misleading or deceptive or was likely to mislead or deceive. His Honour said that by “... offering to sell the domain name in question, and by reason of the registration particulars which are accessible through Domainz [the New Zealand domain name registration body] by anyone visiting that site on the web, it is representing to the public that it has a proprietary interest in or legal entitlement to the use of the name “Qantas” and the goodwill attaching to such name.”
Qantas now intends to register the domain name qantas.co.nz