The ANC has lost its bid to get its web domain back, after the South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law (SAIIPL) ruled against it in a dispute with Unwembi Communications.
The party filed the dispute on 31 October 2018, after Unwembi pulled the site in September, claiming that the ANC had not paid it for services.
The ANC’s official website was hosted at www.anc.org.za, and displayed the message “This website is suspended due to non-payment by the service provider”.
It was forced to launch a revamped website in October, using a new domain anc1912.org.za, referring to the date when the ANC was officially formed.
Later reports said that Unwembi Communications – the company which used to be in charge of the ANC website – was subsequently suing the ANC for R32.5 million.
According reports, the sum consists of R26.5 million for the party’s membership system agreement and R6 million for its website.
Facts presented to SAIIPL
According to the SAIIPL, Unwembi claims that the ANC domain was established in 1997, and has remained in its possession throughout the years, with the ANC using it as service provider.
The group had agreed to hand over the domain after a negotiated payment, but had a set contract in place since 2015 for the ANC to keep using its services for 5 years. As part of the agreement, Unwembi would remain the domain owner until final payment was made.
However, in September 2018, the ANC negotiated to terminate these services – but Unwembi said the payments were not handled in a timely manner.
For its part, the ANC said it had never signed away the rights to the domain, and was only made aware that it wasn’t the owner when the site was taken offline in September.
In its ruling, the SAIIPL adjudicator said that the ANC did not prove its case in any way, and provided no evidence that it had ownership of the domain, except to broadly claim that it owned the domain in some point in the past.
It also failed to submit any supporting documentation that identified it as the ANC.
“The complainant has given no evidence of any rights that it has in “ANC”. It merely made the bald allegation that “The African National Congress (ANC) was formed in 1912 as a liberation movement”.
“No further evidence of its rights to the mark/name ANC was submitted,” the authority said.
“The complainant has not proven its case, and cannot therefore succeed in its complaint.”
The full judgement can be read below:
ANC domain dispute by on Scribd