South Africa.com v. South Africa the country hits US courts

Virtual countries, real lawyers' fees

South Africa has vowed to fight for the URL southafrica.com when the case enters the courtroom in New York next month.

The bizarre lawsuit was filed last year by Seattle-based dotcom Virtual Countries, which currently owns the domain name, in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. It targets both the Republic of South Africa and the South African Tourism Board.

The company owns a stack of country name-based sites - it registered southafrica.com in 1995. It thinks the country of South Africa should be happy with its current dot net suffix.

The South African government does not agree. It says it will battle for the URL, and has taken its case to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the organisation which last year awarded Barcelona.com to the city of Barcelona.

On Friday South Africa's director-general of communications said the government was "determined to pursue this", Reuters reports.

Last year Virtual Countries claimed South Africa was threatening it with 'reverse-hijacking' over the domain name.

The case starts on April 16. ®

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