ACCC takes Domain Names Australia to court

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has started Federal Court proceedings against internet domain name supplier Domain Names Australia and its director Chesley Paul Rafferty, for alleged breaches of the Trade Practices Act.

The ACCC alleges that from June 2003 the supplier made false or misleading representations to businesses who held a registered internet domain name, by sending them notices inviting them to register a new domain name which “was substantially similar to the business's existing domain name and which were styled like an invoice”.

It alleged the form of notice sent by the supplier was misleading or deceptive or “likely to mislead or deceive contrary to Section 52 of the Act”. It had the appearance of an invoice and contained representations to the effect that; the registration of the business's existing name was about to expire; the company was offering to re-register the business's existing name and the business was under an obligation or need to pay the amount referred to in the notice, an ACCC statement said.

It alleged the supplier has 'contravened' section 64 (2A) of the Act, claiming the notices it sent to businesses asserted a right to payment for the service of registering the domain name when that service was unsolicited and the company didn't have a right to payment for that service.

The ACCC is also alleging that Mr Rafferty was “knowingly concerned” and aided and abetted the alleged contravening conduct of the supplier. The consumer watchdog is seeking; a declaration that the supplier has breached sections 52 and 64 (2A) of the Act; a declaration that its sole director Mr Rafferty was a party to the contravention and injunctions restraining future conduct by the supplier and Rafferty

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