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Rights issues concerning .no

A domain name is a name and an address on the Internet. It is not technically possible for more than one party to have exactly the same domain name on the Internet and therefore issues often arise about who has the right to register and use a specific internet address.

General information about domain names

Domain names are user-friendly internet addresses that are used by everyone to search for information and to communicate on the Internet. Reference is often made to the use of the domain name by referring to a website. Domain names consist of letters and are name settings of the underlying number addresses (IPv4 and IPv6) that identify content on the internet.

When domain names were established there were few who imagined that conflicts concerning rights could arise as the result of domain name registration. However, the Internet has developed into an essential tool for public and private services and for social and cultural communication. "Everything and everyone is now on the Internet". It is necessary to be visible and easily accessible on the Internet and domain names are of fundamental importance as indicators. A natural consequence of this development is that there are more instances in which rights issues arise in connection with domain names. 

Third-party rights

What type of rights are alluded to when reference is made to third-party rights? One must look at the background law to determine the rights to a domain name. This involves rights to a trademark, either registered or unregistered, (i.e. incorporated through use). Another right is the use of a company name, i.e. a name that is registered as the name of a firm or its mark. Brand names or product names are a different group of rights that, through use, can have given the holders/users protection through the Marketing Control Act and prohibition against copying. There could also be other rights that prevent a party from using or registering a domain name such as competition clauses and unwritten loyalty obligations.

A number of organisations can have the right to the same domain name based on their own separate grounds. For example, when someone has the registered trademark, someone who has the company name and someone who claims this has been incorporated as their trademark. All these parties may have an equal right to register the domain name, however only one can have it registered under the .no domain. An example of this is Lefdal Installasjon AS and Lefdal Elektrisitet AS. Both these companies could have an equally justifiable right to the domain name lefdal.no.
For more information concerning rights issues, reference is made, among other things, to the website of the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (see the link at the bottom of the article).

Registration of domain names

The registration of a domain name does not give the right to the actual name beyond what is stipulated in another right. Put another way: If you do not have any previous right to the name you register as a domain name you will not obtain any improved right by registering the domain name. It can also be noted that the registration of a domain name will not entail that other parties will lose the right to use the name. This applies in particular when registering generic names such as house.no. The word "house" is generic and can still be used by other market players in other connections. However, when concerning use in the domain world, the concept of "first come first served" applies because, as mentioned above, only one party can use the name in question as a domain name/identifier on the Internet under our national top level domain .no.

As an applicant for a .no domain name you are obligated to sign a self-declaration in which you as the applicant declare that the registration of the domain name in question does not, to the best of your knowledge, involve any unlawful infringement of a third party's registered or unregistered rights to the name. 

The right to the domain name will first be addressed when a party has registered a domain name and another party disputes the first party's right to the domain name. In this way a dispute over a domain name is, in principle, a matter between two or more parties. It is up to the parties themselves to resolve the conflict, however like other legal conflicts in society, this is also a conflict that can be brought before the courts in a civil action. 

In order to make it easier and less expensive for the parties and to relieve the courts, through the Domain Regulations the authorities have created the basis for an alternative dispute resolution mechanism, the Domain Complaints Committee (DOK). The parties can submit complaints regarding domain registration through DOK which can, among other things, hand down decisions relating to rights issues. For more information follow the link to Norid's name policy and domain conflicts under the article.

Right to use - no right of ownership

Norid does not carry out any prior assessment of whether rights have been violated when a domain name is registered. The allocation process is automatic and based on equal treatment and independence. This presupposes that the fundamental conditions for registration are in place, i.e. that the applicant has a valid organisation number in the Entity Register, postal address in Norway and the technical aspects of the registration are in order, such that no other party has already registered the domain name that has been applied for.

The registration does not entail that the holder receives right of ownership to the domain name. By registering the applicant becomes the holder of a right of use to the domain name in accordance with the conditions in the name policy.

A right of use arises upon registration. Norid uses the term "subscriber" for the holder, taking into consideration, among other things, the annual administrative charge and registration fee.

It is important to note that deletion can be the result of several factors such as if the annual administrative charge is not paid or the registration has occurred in some other manner that is in violation of the name policy.