Australian Domain Name Merchant Guilty

The Australian Federal Court has denied an appeal contesting the guilty verdict against Domain Names Pty Ltd along with director Chesley Rafferty who was found guilty of deceptive marketing practices involving the misleading of businesses into registering multiple, slightly different domain names.

In April, Federal Court Justice Andrew Finkelstein determined that Domain Names Pty breached section 52 of the Trade Practices Act, and that Rafferty was personally involved in the deception, supporting allegations made by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Australian domain name administrator auDA.

The ACCC asserted that Domain Names Pty encouraged businesses to register domain names similar to their existing name, but in a format that implied the existing name was due to expire, and needed to be re-registered – for a fee. Domain Names Pty appealed the ruling, which has now been upheld, preventing Rafferty from such future practices, and requiring that he pay the ACCC's costs.

According to auDA chief executive officer Chris Disspain, "auDA is delighted that the Federal Court has confirmed the findings of Justice Finkelstein. Having dealt with this appeal we will now have the matter re-listed before Justice Finkelstein to obtain a timetable for the conduct of the class action in order to secure refunds from DNA and Rafferty for the many thousands of people who have been misled and deceived by these notices."

"auDA reiterates its advice that whilst misleading and deceptive notices, like the ones sent out by DNA and Chesley Rafferty, are rare, all Australians should register or renew their .au domain names only through an auDA accredited registrar or appointed reseller."