Friday, March 6, 2009


We all know how frustrating it is when someone parks where they shouldn't, but imagine the confusion when someone 'parks' an internet domain name without that name being associated with an existing website or e-mail address. Already confused? Let's get back to basics.

Nowadays businesses need a website to advertise themselves as well as an e-mail address.
In order to avoid two or more businesses using the same website name, a system of registration of names, called 'domain name registration' has been developed. Disputes are adjudicated in terms of the Electronic Communications Act 2002.

'Domain parking' is the registration of an internet domain name without that name being associated with a website or e-mail address. Often this is done with the intention of using it in the future as an active domain name.

The difficulty comes when this parked domain name sounds similar to an active domain name (owned by an up and running business with a website and e-mail). In the recent case of Mxit Lifestyle (Pty) Ltd v Andre Steyn, the complainant Mxit alleged that Steyn had registered the name '' which caused the public to believe that this disputed name was linked to Mxit's business. The name 'MXIT' had furthermore been registered as a trademark, thus giving it further protection.

The adjudicator, the SA Institute of Intellectual Property Law, ruled that the disputed name must be transferred to the complainant.

Domain name parkers might think that because they are not actively linking their chosen name to a website or to an e-mail address, that they can register any name they like. This case places a duty of care on them to investigate the suitability of their chosen name first.

Clive Hill
Financial Services Manager



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