Australia Post loses digital mail skirmish

Australia Post loses digital mail skirmish

Summary: Australia Post's attempts to stop a competitor from trading under a name similar to its own have been temporarily foiled, with the court deciding that the competitor can continue to use its name until it decides whether the name misleads customers.

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Australia Post's attempts to stop a competitor from trading under a name similar to its own have been temporarily foiled, with the court deciding that the competitor can continue to use its name until it decides whether the name misleads customers.

(Australia post image by Les Haines, CC2.0)

Last month Digital Post Australia decided to bring out a digital mail service that acts as a personal assistant, notifying users when bill payments are due and keeping digital documents together for secure access.

Its service was announced just a week before Australia Post revealed it would be releasing its own digital mailbox app, called the Australia Post Digital Mailbox. Australia Post's own offering is similar to Digital Post Australia, but in the form of an app for mobile and laptop devices.

Australia Post became concerned that consumers may be misled or deceived by Digital Post Australia's choice of trading name, which it felt was too similar to its own. It thought that Digital Post Australia may therefore be in breach of the Competition and Consumer Act, so it filed an application for an interlocutory injunction against Digital Post Australia with the Federal Court in Melbourne, but the court ruled in favour of Digital Post Australia.

Digital Post Australia chairman David Hynes took the view that the name of the business was simply indicative of what his company does.

"We are delighted with the outcome, which allows us to continue trading under a name that accurately reflects what we do," he said. "We are in an unrivalled position to deliver an innovative, ground-breaking offering to Australians in 2012, and we remain focused on the job at hand."

Digital Post Australia's win means it will be able to continue to use its company name until the Federal Court decides next month whether the name does indeed mislead consumers.

The decision will be important for the companies' impending launches of digital mail services, for which they see demand in the market.

"Australians are demanding more options for how to do business with the companies they use, including Australia Post," said Australia Post managing director and CEO Ahmed Fahour.

"Digital post is an inevitable next step in the online evolution as consumers embrace the ease and convenience of the internet to make more of their everyday transactions," Hynes said. "Our market is ready for the significant and widespread benefits a digital post box will bring for consumers and businesses."

Digital Post Australia's services are due to begin some time in the second half of this year and Hynes claims that it will be Australia's first digital post box when it rolls out.

However, Australia Post may be able to scoop the first to market title if it manages to accelerate the progress on its own Digital Mailbox service.

Today, Australia Post announced that it had signed an agreement with Pitney Bowes to use the Volley secure digital delivery system as the engine behind the Australia Post app. Australia Post has said that it will be the first organisation to use Volley in Australia, and it is presumably set to benefit from the experience of others that have been using Volley in the US since early 2011. The current time frame for the roll-out of Volley is around September this year.

Topics: E-Commerce, Emerging Tech

Michael Lee

About Michael Lee

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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2 comments
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  • For the last 70 years, i have been led to believe that no private company can use Australia, Australian, or any similar name in it's company name, unless permitted by the Commonwealth Government.

    Because the public can be misled that the private company is authorised by the Government to act on its behalf.
    Fredsan
    • Sorry, that's plain wrong. A quick check through any business directory will show many tens of thousands of examples of company names utilising "Australia" or similar.

      Seriously, you can't use your own country's name in your business name...

      As for the article, if Digital Post Australia was registered before Australia Post attempted to register their variant then it is too bad for Australia Post.

      To claim that the sequencing of three generic words implies deceptive or misleading practice, requires that clear intent to do so be proven. Otherwise, Australia Post is acting to restrict trade by claiming sole ownership of specific words in any sequence.

      Lastly, it's not the job of the government to protect everyone from their own stupidity (or otherwsie). Let's just give up self determination and let the government protect us from whatever the government thinks is best (for us or them?).
      Scott W-ef9ad