Question 1. Should the New Zealand domain name space be extended to allow registration at the second level, for example yourname.nz?
This proposal poses significant risks and disadvantages for New Zealand businesses and consumers including: - Increased registration and administration costs (time and money) for securing .nz domain names corresponding to all a business's existing domain names - Consumer confusion as to which domain name to look up or which is the premium or "default" top level domain name. Currently the vast majority of .nz domain names are ".co.nz", making it the expected standard - Security risk from emails sent to @name.nz or @name.co.nz in error (this is more likely than existing confusion, eg between .net.nz and .co.nz, because currently .co.nz is the standard business address for most companies) - Security risk from scam sites being set up by squatters (if owners do not or cannot register .nz version, or if scammers obtain confusing second-level domains like .shop.nz) - Technical obstacles involved in migrating an entire existing website from one domain name to another, or redirecting traffic to original .co.nz website from .nz address - Peripheral and associated costs in changing stationery, updating online address books, promoting consumer awareness of new domain name etc The logical conclusion is most owners of .co.nz addresses will want/need to register the .nz address to avoid other businesses or cyber squatters registering them. This means increased costs and a decision whether to migrate entire website over to .nz (at great cost) or redirect .nz traffic to .co.nz site (also at cost). There seem to be no compelling policy reasons for going ahead with the change. There is not a shortage of existing domain names, ".co.nz" is not overly cumbersome, and the current system of limited and moderated second-level names (".govt", ".school" etc) is working well.
Question 2. Are there any other undertakings that the Domain Name Commission should make while developing/implementing the policy?
Question 3. Should new second level domains be created to cater for particular interest groups, such as .wine.nz or .sport.nz?
There is no obvious benefit to doing so. Any such second-level domains like this would have to be created at the outset, because any that are available will almost certainly be registered as soon as the .nz registration period goes live – so it would likely be difficult to create any more of these in the future.
Question 4. Should new moderated second level domains be created to cater for domain names that require special protection, such as .bank.nz?
This could create more confusion than it solves – if consumers know that some second-level domain names are "secure" or protected, then they could be misled into thinking others are. Scammers could take advantage of second-level domains that are similar to protected ones.
Question 5. Should the registration of some names such as .com.nz or .gov.nz, be prohibited at the second level to minimise potential confusion? What names, if any, should be prohibited?
There are some obvious examples such as those listed above, but far more "grey area" names that could also cause confusion, for example second-level domains that match existing top-level ones such as .info.nz or .biz.nz.
Question 6. Do you agree with the rationale for the Sunrise Period that would enable existing .nz domain name holders first chance to register names at the second level? Why?
There is some value in providing a level of priority to owners of existing .nz domain name holders. But we think owners of existing trade marks are entitled to have priority over other domain name holders. A Sunrise Period would be important if this proposal were to go ahead, to avoid a free-for-all, however there should be a hierarchy that gives priority to registered trade mark owners rather than owners of existing .nz domain name holders. Alternatively, trade mark owners should have their own sunrise period before owners of .nz domain names get theirs. Businesses and domain name holders are familiar with sunrise periods for owners of existing trade marks. They know how such sunrise periods work and are familiar with the processes. Having a registered trade mark means the owner is using or has an intention to use the trade mark in New Zealand. This means they have a legitimate claim to use and own the corresponding .nz domain name over others who have no similar claim. Owners of existing domain names are not required to have any interest or claim in relation to the name – anyone can register a domain name. Allowing owners of existing domain names to have priority for the new .nz domains over the top of trade mark owners would encourage or facilitate cyber squatting. We consider that if some priority is granted to owners of existing .nz domain names, it should be secondary to that afforded to owners of existing New Zealand trade mark registrations. We strongly submit priority should be given (in order) to: 1. Owners of existing New Zealand trade mark registrations 2. Owners of existing .nz domain names 3. Other people Where there are competing trade mark owners or competing domain name owners, we do not support a ballot or any other form of random allocation. The results of such a process would be unpredictable and irrational. Instead, where two businesses are using or have a legitimate claim to the same domain name, we consider priority should be given to the person who has the earliest trade mark or the earliest domain name. For example, a company that has had its trade mark registered for 20 years should clearly have a stronger claim to the corresponding .nz domain name than another company that registered the same trade mark only 1 or 2 years ago. The same comments apply where there are competing .nz domain names.
Question 7. Who should be allowed to register a domain name at the second level when there are competing registrations at the third level?
Where two people have a competing claim, those claims are unlikely to be of equal merit or strength. Priority should be given to whoever has had the competing claim for longest. So if two people who own existing .nz domain names, priority should be given to the person who has had their domain name for the longest. Similarly if we allow an earlier sunrise period for trade mark owners (as recommended above) priority should be given to the person who filed their trade mark first.
Question 8. Assuming only persons with a conflicting third level domain name may apply, how should that conflict be resolved? By consent? Or some other mechanism?
We consider trade mark owners should be given priority over owners of .nz domain names. However, if only owners of .nz domain name may apply during the sunrise period, then we strongly submit that where competing claims exist, priority should then be given to owners of existing .nz domain names who also own the corresponding trade mark. Where there are two equivalent competing claims, priority should be given to the person who has had the .nz domain name or the trade mark for the longest. This will enable priority to be given to those who have had the longest and strongest claim. If the decision is made not to allow any kind of priority for trade mark owners or not to give priority to the owner of the earliest trade mark registration or domain name, then we consider conflicts should be resolved by consent. Unless all competing parties can agree then nobody should be able to own the domain. It is important that we are given priority to .nz domain names that correspond to our trade marks or existing domain names. However, more important than this is that cyber squatters are not allowed to register.nz domain names matching our own trade marks and domain names. We need to avoid consumer confusion and the risk that we will be held to ransom by those cyber squatters. So as a last resort, if the decision is made not to give priority to trade mark owners, we consider it is very important that any conflict between owners of existing .nz domain name holders that the conflict be decided by consent. This will allow us to block others from registering the .nz domain, preventing consumer confusion and stopping cyber squatters from interfering with our intellectual property rights.
Question 9. Should the Domain Name Commission consider extending its Dispute Resolution Service for a limited period to cover particular sub-domains when considering whether a name registered at the second level infringes a complainant’s rights?
If this proposal is adopted, the Dispute Resolution Service should be extended permanently to deal with infringement and confusion arising out of second-level domain names and misuse of sub-domains. As the consultation paper recognises, NZ and international consumers are accustomed to .nz sites having three levels. Second-level domain name holders will have to patrol every "generic" second-level name for misleading sub-domain names, report them to DNC, wait for an order for the website to be shut down, and then ensure that it is in fact shut down. It is only fair that DNC in return offers a speedy and efficient service to allow such sub-domains to be taken down. It is not reasonable for the DNC to offer dispute resolution assistance for two years and then withdraw the service.
Question 10. Is the approach as outlined in the proposed amended policy in Appendix C appropriate? Why?
This approach highlights the fact that opening up second-level names paves the way for confusion among consumers who will be misled by owners of generic second-level names using confusing sub-domains, for example telecom.shop.nz. DNC will need to define what a "generic" second-level name is, and this will be an exercise in semantics. It will also need to ensure complaints are dealt with quickly so that infringing domains and sub-domains are taken offline as soon as possible.
Question 11. Are there any other comments you would like to make relating to this consultation?