By using a simple of piece of computer code it is possible to redirect visitors from one website to another.

This tool is called a '301 redirect' and can be used by a business when it changes the domain name under which it operates its website. By implementing a '301 redirect', the business avoids the need to completely rebuild its website under a new domain name. A very handy tool, indeed!

Unfortunately, this tool can also be used for the allegedly legitimate purpose of search engine optimisation (SEO) when a third party who, having registered the name of a well-known brand or company as a domain name, diverts traffic from that domain name to its own website.

This was precisely the scenario encountered by James & Wells's client, Zespri, when it discovered in August last year a Wellington-based employment services company had registered and was using a '301 redirect' to divert internet visitors from to a page on its own website.

In December James & Wells filed a complaint on behalf of Zespri with the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) to recover the domain name. In his decision of 22 February this year, the WIPO-appointed panelist was unequivocal in finding that the Wellington company had no legitimate rights or interest in the domain name and that its registration for SEO purposes was in bad faith. The panellist therefore ordered the domain name registration be transferred to Zespri.

Contact Ben Cain to discuss how we can help you.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

James and Wells is the 2010 New Zealand Law Awards winner of the Intellectual Property Law Award for excellence in client service.