NSW's "cybersquatting" claim taken to town

The owner of a number of Australian state domain names has hit back at the New South Wales government’s move to “protect” geographical sites from commercial interests, saying a recent decision by the WIPO proves private entities can be legitimate owners of such sites.

SYDNEY (ZDNet Australia)--The owner of a number of Australian state domain names has hit back at the New South Wales government’s move to “protect” geographical sites from commercial interests, saying a recent decision by the WIPO proves private entities can be legitimate owners of such sites.

The NSW government has set up a “one city one site” proposal to be presented to the nation domain name authority (auDA) for review, in which it seeks to stop commercial operators from owning geographical domain names.

In a recent announcement, the government called private entities which own common spaces on the Net “cybersquatters”.

The allegations has angered Web site owner, Joyce Russ Advertising, which currently occupies brisbane.com, adelaide.com, perth.com, and melbourne.com.

“I wish to point out that this is not that simple, and my company is not cybersquatting, but is actively developing Internet portals for the domain names it holds,” Joyce Russ Advertising director Peter Russ said.

Recently, Joyce Russ Advertising was cleared by the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) of allegations made by the Brisbane City Council--which was fighting for the control of Brisbane.com--claiming that the company was cybersquatting on what it believed was rightfully their site.

In a previous report by ZDNet, the Brisbane City Council said that even though Brisbane.com was not a registered trademark of the council, it believed it had “more rights to the name than the South Australian advertising agency”.

A WIPO arbitration decision was made in May this year, dismissing the claim that the company didn’t have legitimate interests in the Web site, finding Joyce Russ Advertising "not guilty of cybersquatting".

In regards to NSW Information Technology Minister Kim Yeadon’s move to “protect” Australian geographic sites, Russ said “there’s so many variables to domain names, the last time I looked it was a free market in Australia”.

“Why is the government so interested in these domains is the question people should be asking,” Russ said.

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