DOMAIN NAME RULES 'ARE WORKING' IN SOUTH AFRICA

Internet

The inflexibility of two companies which were fighting over the brand name Mr Plastic has been resolved in the first verdict handed down under new rules for quelling local internet address disputes.

A clash for the cyber address mrplastic.co.za had reached melting point between Mr Plastic and Mr Plastic Mining & Promotional Goods, but was resolved in less than two months under the new arbitration.

The complainant, Mr Plastic, has been using its name and a flag logo for 27 years. Mr Plastic Mining & Promotional Goods has used the same logo for 18 years, but was first to register the internet domain name.

Mr Plastic took the dispute to the new authority set up to resolve domain name s quabbles. The panel found that both companies had established a right to the name, and the complainant lost the case. He failed to show that the name was distinctive of his business or that the use of the domain name by a rival was unfairly detrimental to his rights, the panel ruled.

Mr Plastic has added an "s" to trade as mrplastics.co.za while Mr Plastic Mining & Promotional Goods has kept the mrplastic.co.za web address. "This was not the typical case of cybersquatting where someone comes along and tries to ride on the reputation of another company, because both had built up their historical rights to the name," said Mariette Viljoen, president of the South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law, this week.

Viljoen said the new regulations introduced by SA's Domain Name Authority last November had proven their worth as cyberspace disputes over trademarks could now be resolved quickly and effectively without involving lawyers.

Business Day