Fledging New Zealand businesses being able to secure
their company domain name and trademark from one search is a
welcome development, Dunedin intellectual property lawyer Sally
"From my perspective, the best thing about the tool is that
it will focus on new businesses and marketing firms advising
them on the necessity to check for trade market availability
as well as company name and domain name." Nine times out of
10, the domain name would be chosen and a company name
reserved but the trademark angle was completely overlooked,
Ms Peart, a partner with Marks and Worth, said.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce launched the
OneCheck service on Tuesday.
Until now, people had to search three different websites to
check the availability of their new business name.
The new product was one of the steps towards the Government's
planned one-stop online shop for businesses from the Better
Public Services initiative.
"This new online search tool integrates, refines and improves
current government services to businesses.
"The importance of this cannot be underestimated when you
consider that 90% of businesses have contact with one or more
government agencies at least once a year," he said.
Ms Peart said that while registration of a company name gave
someone exact rights to that name as a company, it did not
give rights in relation to something which was similar but
not the same. The same was true of domain name registration.
The other issue with domain name registrations was that while
the domain name might be available, there might be an
existing trademark or business using that mark in an
unregistered manner which had prior rights. In that case,
registration of a company name and domain name in itself did
not create any guarantee that someone could use that name
with impunity, she said.
"In contrast, a registered trademark will enable you to
prevent other businesses from using your trademark as a
domain name or company name. In many cases, this can even
result in the domain name being transferred to the owner of
However, the OneCheck system should not be considered a
replacement for getting specialist advice on registrability
of a trademark or whether a company or domain name would
infringe anyone else's existing rights, Ms Peart said.
OneCheck could only give a result which said whether or not
any other party had the specific name, not whether the
trademark was "confusingly similar" to another mark - or in
itself inherently registerable.
Trademarks which were overly descriptive or lacked
distinctiveness would not be registerable even if available
unless there was a history of use which overcame lack of
inherent distinctiveness, she said.