A criminal trial, now taking place in Jakarta, could have significant implications for Bali-based e-commerce operators who indulge in "cyber-squatting". Cyber-squatting is the practice in which the name of a person or company is registered by a third party as an e-commerce domain, without permission, for the purpose of misleading the public or in order to hold ransom that name for eventual sale back to its true owner.
The Jakarta trial involves the one-time manager of the Indonesian cosmetic firm PT Martina Berto who registered the domain name MustikaRatu.com - which is the name of a leading national cosmetic company operated by his (then) employer's major competitor. Mustika Ratu contend that the misappropriation of the company name by their competitor's managers resulted in financial losses and damage to their reputation.
PT Martina Berto have responded that their former manager, now on trial, Tjandra Sugiono appropriated the Mustika Ratu name in a private capacity and was not acting at the request of his employer when he registered their competitior's domain.
Sugiono, if convicted of violating the Indonesian Criminal Code on fraudulent competition, could be sentenced to a maximum of 16 months in jail.
The outcome of this case is being watched with some interest in Bali where certain e-commerce operators have registered numerous domain names, including the names of existing tourism and business enterprises, without first obtaining the permission of the businesses concerned. Those names are then offered for sale to the highest bidder via local web sites.
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