The following information is supplied for the convenience of our clients or potential clients and is to be considered as a brief and simplified outline only.
What is a Domain Name?
Domain names are the human-friendly forms of Internet addresses, and are commonly used to find websites. The domain name system is essentially a global addressing system.
Each physical point on the internet is assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) address. As these addresses consist of long numbers, domain names are the human friendly translation of these IP addresses. Put in another way, a domain name is a unique alias for an IP address (a number), which is an actual physical point on the Internet.
Value of Domain Names
Recently there has been a realization of the value of domain names and a surge in domain name registrations. This is primarily due to increased use and access to the Internet.
We advise clients to register domain names that correspond to their trade marks as soon as possible, particularly as there is no screening process before registration of domain names- a domain name is registered in the name of the first person who asks to register it. This means that any party could register the domain name corresponding to your trade mark and either hold you at ransom or use it for trading purposes using your reputation and goodwill to its advantage.
Protection of Rights in South Africa
There is no legislation in South Africa specifically aimed at preventing infringement of trade marks through the registration and use of domain names, but it may be possible to act against cybersquatters in terms of the Trade Marks Act.
Protection of Rights in Other Countries
ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers)- responsible for the allocation of IP addresses- has adopted a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. This policy has been adopted by a number of top level domain name registries, including the registry responsible for .com domain names. The .co.za and .za domain name registries have not adopted this Policy.
Where there is a dispute about domain names governed by registries that have adopted the Policy, these disputes may be referred to certain Resolution Service Providers appointed by ICANN. This procedure, although expensive, is a speedy and effective alternative to an approach to the Courts. Testing changes.
Registration of Domain Names
We would be happy to assist you to determine whether your proposed domain name is available for registration and will assist you in the registration thereof. These services extend beyond merely .co.za domain name.