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Imagine: you and your brother had an awesome idea to open a business together. With your experience in sales and his brilliant carpentry skills your little homemade furniture business is born. To begin with you want to keep costs down and so you simply create a gmail account and advertise in the local paper. The business takes off! After a while you have become so successful that you are thinking of expanding your business, and you decide to get a website.
Your quirky business name has been snapped up by another website! Even worse, no obvious alternatives are available either. What to do?
In New Zealand, when you register a company it is checked by the Registrar that your businesses name is original. However in today’s digital world an online presence can be key to the success of your business, which means that right from start-up there are more things to think about than merely the name of your business:
Your domain name is your online address. Realistically, you don’t want your domain name to be wildly different from your business name. If it is you risk people not making the association between the two and ultimately losing business. However, as the internet is a busy and complex being the likelihood of being able to use your first choice of name is unlikely – after all, it’s not called the “world wide web” for nothing! So when you register your company name it is really important that you have done a full-on web search to check that your name is original and available to use.
The law surrounding domain names in New Zealand is a little unclear. What is clear is that certain intellectual property rights attach to your website name. This means that the Court is able to order other people to hand over the rights and the ownership of domain names. They also have the power to cancel the use of certain domain names. It also means that if someone else is using your company name as their domain name and trying to pass off as you, the Court will put a stop to that and protect your brand.
Remember – the internet is an ever changing beast so make sure you do your research and register both your company name and your domain name as soon as you can! To help you check whether your preferred name is available you can use OneCheck, a handy tool presented by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. They will search all registered New Zealand companies, domain names and trademarks in one easy click. You can find them here: http://www.business.govt.nz/onecheck
Disclaimer (irritating yet important!): The information on this page is general information only and must not be relied on as legal advice. Legal Beagle is not a law firm or a substitute for a law firm. We are unable to provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defences, options, selection of legal documents or strategies.
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