High Court deals with cybersquatting issues for first time


The High Court has handed down its decision in Malaysia's first cybersquatting case, Petroliam Nasional Berhad v Khoo Nee Kiong (2003 4 CLJ 303).

The case was brought by Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) against Khoo Nee Kiong. It was alleged that Kiong had:

  • registered several domain names containing the PETRONAS trademark for the purpose of resale;

  • operated a website from 'www.petronasgas.com', which purportedly provided information about Petronas; and

  • published defamatory statements about Petronas on the website and in emails to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

Kiong denied the allegations.

With reference to the UK Court of Appeal decision in British Telecommunications plc v One in a Million Ltd, the judge granted an injunction against Kiong, holding that:

  • he had made the defamatory statements and had probably set up the website;

  • the domain names were instruments of fraud and any use of them would result in passing off; and

  • he intended to deceive the public through the use of the PETRONAS trademark.

The decision is long overdue, as other jurisdictions already have developed a body of cybersquatting case law. Although the decision deals only with an interlocutory injunction, the court's findings will set a precedent for future domain name cases.

Brian Chia and Syed Naqiz Shahabuddin, Wong & Partners, Kuala Lumpur

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