Academic ousts Oz cyber-squatter

March 3, 2000

MELBOURNE

An academic acted as an assessor in the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organisation's (Wipo) first decision on an Australian "cyber-squatting" dispute.

The dispute, which involved

telecommunications organisation Telstra centred on the

registration of the domain name telstra.org by an Australian using Nuclear Marshmallows for his email. Andrew Christie, an academic at the University of Melbourne, who was appointed by Wipo, ruled in favour of Telstra.

Cyber-squatting often occurs when a person registers the name of a well-known individual or company with the intention of selling the name back to them. Legally, the situation is described as "bad-faith registration".

Dr Christie is a member of the Wipo Panel of Neutrals, which presides over cybersquatting disputes under a policy set down last October by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann). This provides mandatory administrative proceedings to resolve cybersquatting disputes in the .com, .net and .org domains.

The Telstra decision is the third internationally and the first to involve an Australian company.

Dr Christie said Telstra brought a complaint about registration of telstra.org and sought to have it transferred to the corporation. He had to decide whether Icann's policy covered instances where the name was not being used in "bad faith", as Nuclear Marshallows had done nothing other than register it.

"I decided that the policy did include non-action," Dr Christie said. "This is a unique situation in law where a complainant can obtain a decision quickly without having to go court."

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