CyberLawNet.com - Powered by Yip Tse & Tang, Solicitors & Notaries 葉謝鄧律師行

Hong Kong Domain Name Registration Company Limited ("HKDNR")

HKDNR is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation ("HKIRC"). It is the operation arm of the HKIRC.

It is responsible for the administration of Internet domain names under '.hk' country-code top-level domain. It assumed the responsibility of registration and assignment of Internet domain names ending with '.hk', '.com.hk', '.org.hk', '.gov.hk', '.edu.hk' , '.net.hk' and '.idv.hk'.

The Board of Directors of HKDNR comprises 13 members from six different classes, namely "User Class", "Service Provider Class", "IT Industry Class", "Commercial and Industry Class", "Tertiary Institution Class" and "Government Class".

HKDNR is a non-profit -making company where it pays no dividends to its shareholders. It charges for Domain Name registrations in order to cover its operational costs. Domain Name registration fees are periodically reviewed. The Company will not scrutinize applications for Domain Names, other than in respect of technical restrictions and application qualifications. Nor will it make judgments as to whether the registration or use of a Domain Name infringes the rights of any third parties. HKDNR will employ latest technology to deliver cost-effective service to Customers.


Domain Names FAQ

Q: What is the legal significance of the "first-come-first served" registration policy of the domain name registrar such as Network Solutions Inc and Hong Kong Domain Name Registration Limited?
A: In the English authority where pitman.co.uk was the subject of dispute, the "first-come-first-served" registration policy is challenged by Pitman Training Limited. The registrar of .co.uk Nominet NK was sued. The Court ruled that Nominet NK was entitled to allocate domain names based on the "first-come-first-served" policy.

Q: What legal risk relates to the use of domain names?
A: There is a legal risk on using a domain name associated with a famous brand, trade mark or business. Disney and Rolex are examples. A person who adopts a domain name the same as or with likeness to famous brands will highly likely attract litigation on passing-off and trade mark infringement.

Q: Are there any cases being litigated on use of famous brand as domain names?
A: There are a lot of cases on that in America but not too many in England. There is so far none in Hong Kong. In England, Harrods.com, marksandspcxencer.com have been a subject of dispute. In both cases, Harrods and Marks & Spencer managed to "get back" their domain names. The relevant aspects of laws adopted by the Court are trade mark and passing off. As these are common law cases, the decided legal principles are of great use to Hong Kong when advising rights on domain name legally.7

Q: Am I liable of trade mark infringement or passing off if I have adopted the use of domain name associated with a famous mark which I am not aware of its existence?
A: You would still be liable. You are therefore advised to make searches in respect of the trade mark registry before you decide to adopt the domain name. Some marks could have attracted litigation to your surprise. For example, a information company in Washington DC registered the domain name dc.com. Warner Brothers owns the registered trade mark DC COMICS and sued the information company with the objective of "getting back" the domain name..

Besides, Genesis Access Point obtained the domain name thegap.com. The garment shop The Gap Inc. who also owns the registered trade mark of GAP, sued Genesis for trade mark infringement,.

Q: How is my position if I am only a domain name collector of famous brands and I do not use the domain names to a build a homepage.
A: That is legally risky. In the English case of One in a Million, a long history and volumnous act of domain name collection is sufficient to constitute a threat of infringement. In that case, the defendant was ordered by the Court to assign a number of domain names to the Plaintiffs. The domain names included bt.org, marksandspencer.com, labrokes.com.

Q: Should I commence legal action in the Court or complain to the accredited arbitration service provider in a dispute relating to a .hk domain name?
A: It depends what remedies you intent to seek. Judge by the experience in .com disputes, complainants inclined to use ICANN's Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy much more often than using the Court as a venue. The arbitration venue is believed to be of less cost and more speedy. But the Arbitration Panel has no power to order any damages against the registrant.


Trend of E-Commerce and Conflict

Prior to the wide adoption of e-business, companies have traded terrestially on their own different territories without conflict even using the same trade name or brand. Companies do not have conflict on use of the same trade name or brand in the same territory if they each engages in distinctive trades and hence there is no confusion among the customers.

E-Business on the Internet has brought to changes because for a brand, one .com is available for registration. Different trades or trades in different territories may find themselves very much interested in getting registration of their own trade name or brand as a domain name, for e-business development or for avoiding dilution of their goodwill. Meanwhile, a group of people has found that collecting domain names can be a very good source of fortune. They are the so-called cybersquatters who have registered famous brands, trade marks or trade names with the intention purely to dispose of for huge profits. Hong Kong does not have an anti-cybersquatting specific legislation. Disputes would therefore have to be resolved according to the legal framework of trade mark and passing-off or probably defamation.


IP Address and Domain Name Server

The Internet is an open computer network. It links up individual computers used by people at their homes or offices. Web-sites are hosted by Internet Service Provider (ISP) identifiable by their Internet Protocol Addresses (IP address).

To obtain access to a web-site, a user has to type on the browser's provided space the IP Address. Since IP Addresses are a series of digits, not easy to be remembered, a user can type its English spelt equivalent and upon pressing the 'ENTER' button, it passes through the Domain Name Service (DNS) name server and gets access to the web-site. This happens without the notice of the user.