Wagga florist dispute sees web link changed to sister newspaper

Melissa Cummins, owner of Champs Wagga, was disappointed when she found out champswagga.com sent visitors to a rival florist. The link has since changed to point to the Border Mail.
Melissa Cummins, owner of Champs Wagga, was disappointed when she found out champswagga.com sent visitors to a rival florist. The link has since changed to point to the Border Mail.

An internet address at the centre of a legal challenge between two Wagga florists has been changed after the case was brought to public attention.

On Thursday, The Daily Advertiser reported the owner of Champs Florist was concerned that a rival business might be using a similar website domain name.

While champswagga.com.au sends visitors to Melissa Cummins’ website, people who went to champswagga.com were redirected to Freckles Flowers’ website instead.

However, within 24 hours of enquiries by the DA, champswagga.com no longer sent traffic to Freckles – instead it was redirecting visitors to Albury newspaper The Border Mail’s website.

The champswagga.com domain name is registered to a Wagga man named Brian Arundell, who confirmed via email that he had registered it for about $10. However, Mr Arundell was unable to be contacted further about the matter.

Mr Arundell is believed to have a child with Katrina Dosser, the owner of Freckles Flowers, who told the DA she was not aware of the redirect and that she would look into the matter when she was called on Wednesday.

Ms Cummins said it wasn’t the first time the “.com” domain was used to send visitors to Freckles, claiming the first instance was two months after she opened in 2015. She had referred both cases to her solicitor because they appeared to be “deceptive and misleading”.

Associate Professor Tanveer Zia from Charles Sturt University (CSU) Wagga said from a technical point of view, the “.com” and “.com.au” are completely different domain names. 

“Besides the business interests the matter can be taken as domain name dispute,” Dr Zia said.

“These sort of matters are handled by the Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policies (UDRP) and .au Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP). Similarity in domain names between similar vendors can fuel the rivalry and the dispute becomes complex which include misleading marketing tactics, but one way to litigate this sort of case is by looking at history of the businesses, which business was established first, when was it registered and so on.”

CSU marketing lecturer Michael Mehmet said when one competitor appears to copy or replicate another, they usually get found out by customers.

“The copier’s reputation is tarnished because the practice is considered unethical and just ‘wrong’,” Dr Mehmet said.

“From a marketing perspective, a business would normally ensure that all domains names potentially related to the brand are secured to avoid such issues happening.”

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