The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will take domain name reseller Internet Name Protection (trading as Internet Names Group or ING) and its director Mark Spektor to the Federal Court after a 20-month investigation into its business practices.
The ACCC accuses ING of misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to its marketing of domain name renewals. In April of 2001, ARN published allegations from several resellers and end users accusing ING of sending domain name renewal forms to the customers of their competitors. It was claimed that ING and several other resellers had achieved this by gaining access to the AUNIC database, which lists the renewal details of .com.au domain addresses.
ING sent renewal forms that attempted to mislead customers into believing they were renewing their domain name with their original supplier. These renewals, however, were sold at well-above standard industry prices and for periods of time well above the two-year maximum set by the Australian Domain Authority (auDA).
When ARN contacted ING director Mark Spektor last year, he defended the practice of sending out renewal forms to companies it had no prior dealings with, suggesting it is a common practice in many service industries. Spektor said ING only sent the business or consumer a tax invoice if they submit some sort of reply to the reminder notice.
"It is not misleading because it specifically states who we are on the form," he said. "Consumers have the choice the whole time of whether they choose to use our service or not."