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Your domain name is like your business’ physical address, except it exists on the internet. Customers will type this web address in their browser URL bar to find you online, and it will be a primary contact point for many. Therefore, it is crucial to duly consider an appropriate domain name and take steps to protect your relevant IP rights. You may also have to compete with other businesses to get the specific domain name that you want. One of these instances regards conflicted domain names. If you are dealing with a conflict in this situation, it can be frustrating to handle. However, this article will provide some guidance around the topic and suggest what you can do if your domain name is conflicted.

Registering a Domain Name

Firstly, it would be useful to go through some background information about registering domain names. When you want to register a domain name for your business, you need to do so with an authorised registrar. You can choose the kind of domain suffix that you want, such as:

  • .com for a global domain name; or
  • .nz for a country-specific New Zealand domain name.

You will likely see New Zealand domains that end in: 

  • .org.nz; 
  • .co.nz; or
  • .nz.

For instance, www.legalvision.co.nz is the domain name for LegalVision’s New Zealand website. .co.nz is the domain extension for this website.

The Domain Name Commission (DNC) has a list on its website of authorised New Zealand registrars. You will need to pay a fee to that registrar if you choose to maintain your domain name. You should check their requirements, which include that you cannot register a domain name that someone else is already using. You can look up existing domain names using the DNC’s WHOIS search function.

.nz is a country code top-level domain that only applies to New Zealand websites. Internet NZ manages this domain space.

What is a Conflicted Domain Name?

You can choose the variety of domain extension you want, as long as it is available for the specific word you want to use. Shorter ones are easier for your customers to remember, so many will opt for the .nz extension for that reason. Businesses will sometimes register their domain names with multiple extensions to ensure customers will not mix them up with another business. You can set specifications that will send customers all to the same site that represents your business.

A conflicted domain name refers to the situation where two parties (registrants) with the same domain name (but different extensions) want the .nz equivalent. For example, say that two different registrants owned www.mybusiness.org.nz and www.mybusiness.co.nz. Both have equal authority to register www.mybusiness.nz (the shorter domain name), and both want it. However, they cannot agree on who should get it. Therefore, www.mybusiness.nz is a conflicted domain name.

Why is My Domain Name Conflicted?

.nz domain extensions became available to the general public in September 2014. At the time, registrants could choose whether they also wanted to register their domain name with a .nz extension. If there were multiple registrants with the same domain name, they had to notify the DNC that they wanted that domain name with a .nz extension. If one registrant wanted it and the other did not, then the necessary registration was relatively straightforward.

However, there were multiple cases where registrants with different domain extensions, but the same domain name, all wanted the .nz domain extension for their relevant domain name. This resulted in conflicted New Zealand domain names. Since 2014, many of these cases have not had a solution, with around 2,000 conflicting domain names still occurring today. Until there is a solution, no one can register that conflicted domain name with a .nz extension.

What Should I Do if My NZ Domain Name is Conflicted?

What you can do will depend on who you are and your relationship with the conflicted domain name. If you are a registrant who already owns one of the alternate domain extensions, you should try to negotiate with the other relevant registrants. The DNC has been developing a process to prompt easy mediation, using online software called ‘Immediation’ to resolve conflicted domain name disputes. You will likely be able to use this trial resolution method from the middle of this year.

If you are a new party that wants to register a .nz extension to your domain name that is conflicted between two registrants already, then your options are limited. The best way to move forward may be to consider using a different domain name. This is because any kind of dispute resolution process will take a while, and you cannot guarantee that the registrants who already have the domain name will not use it for themselves. Instead, you can come up with a new and unique domain name to represent your business.

Key Takeaways 

A conflicted domain name refers to when two or more registrants all want the .nz extension for their domain name. If you are in this situation, the DNC has a mediation software that they are trialling this year to solve these kinds of disputes. If you would like more information or help with your conflicted domain name, contact LegalVision’s IT lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a domain name?

A domain name is the website address that your customers will type into their search/URL bar to find your business.

What is a domain extension?

A domain extension is the set of letters at the end of your domain name. There are global ones, like .com, or country-specific ones, like .nz or .co.nz.

What is a conflicted domain name?

A conflicted domain name is when two or more domain name registrants with an equal right to the .nz extension want that extension for their domain name. There is then a conflict over who should get that domain name and extension.

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