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Domain namer pays $250,000

ACTION taken against an Australian Internet domain name company by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has resulted in the establishment of a $250,000 compensation trust fund.

The ACCC, in conjunction with the US Federal Trade Commission, successfully took action against Internic Technology and its director Peter Zmijewski for misleading and deceptive conduct.

The company agreed to pay $250,000 into a compensatory trust fund.

ACCC chairman Allan Fels said it alleged Internic and its director misled consumers by using an almost identical domain name to the US Government-contracted InterNic, the exclusive registrar of second level domain names in the .com, .net, .org, .gov and .edu top level Internet domains.

Internic was operating a website at http://www.internic.com while InterNIC could be found at http://www.internic.net

The ACCC alleged:

• Consumers looking for InterNIC often entered ‘internic’ or ‘internic.com’ and ended up at the site run by the respondent who then acted as a broker in the sale of domain name services

• The use of the name ‘internic.com’ was likely to create the false impression that the respondent’s business was, or was affiliated with, InterNIC

• Consumers went to the respondent’s website to register a domain name directly with InterNIC

• Consumers used the respondent’s services believing they were using services provided by InterNIC as a result of the respondent’s misleading and deceptive conduct.

“The fee charged by the respondents was between US$220 and US$250. The fee charged by InterNIC ranged between US$70 and US$100,” Professor Fels said.

“The respondents have registered about 13,000 domain names prior to May 1998.

Internic Technology and Mr Zmijewski gave undertakings to the Federal Court that they would no longer use the name ‘internic’ or any similar name.

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