Proposed changes to .nz Conflicted Name Process

Please note submissions closed at midday, Thursday 22 December 2016

Policy changes related to this consultation have been notifed at

You are still able to lodge a preference for the shorter version of the domain name if you are eligible, more information on how to do this can be found here:

If you want to keep up to date with all .nz policy consultatios, the easiest way to this is to sign up to our newsletter here: 

Orginial document begins:

Following an internal review of conflicted names in the .nz domain name space, we have identified a number of proposed changes that we believe will streamline the Conflicted Name Process and, over time, help reduce the total number of conflicted names within .nz.

The changes we are proposing are:

  • To require all registrants involved in a conflicted domain name to lodge a preference within 12 months.  
  • To remove the option for a conflicted name to become a new second level.
  • To clarify that, in cases where all registrants have lodged a preference saying they don’t care who gets the shorter name, the conflicted name will be released for general registration.

We are also considering whether there should be a different approach to conflicted names in cases where a registrant is self-conflicted, and how registrants who have engaged in the Conflicted Name Process without resolution can best be handled. 

The changes we are proposing are reasonably significant, compared with how conflicted names within .nz have been dealt with up until now. We would like to hear from the community about our proposals and invite anyone with an interest in conflicted names to make a submission.

More information about the proposed changes, including a backgrounder to conflicted names and an analysis of our thinking, can be found below. We especially encourage anyone who is unfamiliar with the history behind the policies around conflicted names to read through the information below before making a submission.   

All submissions were published at the bottom of this page as they were received.

If you’ve got any questions about the proposed changes, please let us know. You can contact us by using this form. Please note this form is not for submissions. Instead please email your submission to


An important note on terminology:

Our proposals relate to conflicted names only; not to disputes over .nz domain names. There’s already a well-established Dispute Resolution Service policy around how disputes are dealt with –

A conflicted name is a shorter, unregistered domain name direct at .nz where holders of second level equivalents all have rights in the conflicted name. They need to agree among themselves who can get it.

In the example below, for instance, the conflicted domain name is There are three names with rights –, and – and these registrants all need to reach agreement about who is able to register




When second level registrations were introduced into .nz on 30 September 2014, it was documented in the policy that the process for considering registrations of conflicted names would be reviewed two years after that date. We have now done that review and identified some proposed changes. The proposed changes are set out below and we welcome your comments on these. You can comment on any aspect of the Conflicted Name Process and we are also open to any other suggestions on how the process might be improved.

What is a conflicted name?

A conflicted name is a shorter .nz name direct at the second level that has equivalents registered in at least two second levels. For example, for the conflicted name, one registrant may hold while others may hold and If one of these registrants wants to try and get the shorter version of the name they need to go through the Conflicted Name Process (CNP). 

How does the CNP work at present?

The CNP relies on agreement being reached to resolve the conflict and enable the agreed entity to register the domain name direct at .nz. The other way for a conflict to be resolved is for all but one of the conflicted names to be cancelled and released, leaving only one remaining.

This process for managing conflicts was agreed as part of our second level registrations policy development process.  A number of options for managing conflicted names were considered but this ‘agreement’ approach was decided on as being the fairest because it didn’t give any particular domain name in the conflict set any ‘greater right’. It also meant that an entity wouldn’t face the risk of their name being registered direct at the second level and potentially causing confusion with their name, without any knowledge of the process.

Section 10 of the Operations and Procedures policy sets out the process for registrants of conflicted names to follow.  It involves the registrants going to the ‘lodge your preference’ page and lodging one of the following preferences:

  1. You want to try and get the shorter version of your domain name
  2. You don’t think anyone should get it
  3. You don’t want it and don’t care who gets it
  4. You don’t think anyone should get it and think it should become its own second level like, or

There is no timeframe for resolving conflicts, and as long as the conflict remains the name at the second level cannot be registered. There is no plan to change this overall tenet.

Ideally all .nz domain names should either be registered or available for registration, except where specifically prohibited such as  Conflicted names are effectively blocked from registration on a first come, first served basis due to the special status they hold. But, with this consultation, we are interested in exploring ways to amend the policy around CNP to encourage engagement with a view to resolving as many conflicts as possible in as short a time frame as practicable.


Proposed changes to the CNP

Requiring an action

At the moment there is no requirement on any registrant of a conflicted name to do anything, and therefore no implication if they don’t lodge any preference for what should happen to their domain name direct at .nz. 

To date, of the 36,771 names that had the right to lodge a preference, only 5,903 had done so.

At this rate the majority of conflicts would never be resolved, or even have the chance of being resolved.  This is unfair on those who have lodged a preference and are waiting for others in the set to do so in order to go any further.

We are therefore proposing an amendment to the policy to require an action on the part of the registrant involved to lodge a preference.  If this change goes ahead we would formally notify it and give registrants 12 months to take that action. We would prepare communications material for both registrars and registrants around this requirement.

In the case of a conflict set involving 2 domain names, the failure of one registrant to lodge a preference would mean the conflict was resolved in the favour of the registrant who had lodged a preference, assuming the preference they lodged was to try and get the shorter version of their name (currently 91.8% of preferences lodged are for this).  Where no preferences are lodged in a conflict set, the conflict would automatically be resolved with the name becoming available for registration on a first come, first served basis.

Please note that the process itself is planned to remain as it is currently.  The issue is one of engagement and requiring an action rather than changing the process itself.  It is also intended that the facilitation service we currently provide to assist in resolving conflicts continue through any period where registrants are required to lodge a preference, and for three months following the end of any such period

Selection of preferences

At the moment there are four preferences for registrants to choose from through the CNP, as detailed above. To date, 37 preferences have been lodged for the name becoming a second level like  When communicating with those who choose that preference it is clear that they didn’t realise what that meant and they go and select a different preference.  In reviewing all those names with that as a preference, none of them would have met the criteria set out in Section 11 of the Operations and Procedures policy. 

We are therefore proposing that this preference be removed from the options available.

We are also proposing that the policy clarify that where all preferences in a conflict set have been lodged and all have selected the ‘don’t want it and don’t care who gets it’ option, the conflict should be considered resolved and the name released to be available for registration on a first come, first served basis.

Self conflicted names

As noted above, to date there are 36,771 conflicted names comprising 15,759 strings. Our review of these indicates that around 35% of the conflicted parties are “self conflicted”. In other words, the same entity holds all the domain names in the string.  Where there is one entity holding all names in a conflicted string, it isn’t a case of another person registering the name causing confusion as they are all the same. 

The question is whether it is appropriate for the conflict to remain indefinitely in this situation, or whether there should be a provision in the policy to require the self-conflict to be addressed.

As noted earlier, the reasons for taking the approach we did with conflicted names was to make sure that no one domain name in a conflicted set was bestowed a “greater right” and also to try and prevent the risk of a registrant facing “their” name being registered at the second level and potentially causing confusion. 

In the case of a self conflicted name, there is no such confusion and an argument can be made that they should not be able to block the availability of the direct .nz name due to their own self-conflict.

Handling those who have engaged in the process without resolution

Though the ideal situation is to resolve all conflicts we are realistic that, in practice, that is unlikely to happen.  For example, the string ‘www’ is conflicted in 8 second levels including, and

One of the biggest reason conflicts are resolved currently is ‘last one standing’ where all registrations but one have been cancelled and released and so the remaining registrant gets notice the conflict has now resolved and they have two months to register the direct .nz name.  It is likely this number will continue to increase over time.

At this time, it is planned that as long as the registrants in the conflict set have engaged in the process then the conflict will remain and the registration of the name direct at .nz can’t go ahead. However, we will continue to review this position regularly.

Summary of changes:

To recap, the changes being proposed are:

  • To require all registrants involved in a conflicted domain name to lodge a preference within 12 months. 
  • To remove the option for a conflicted name to become a new second level.
  • To clarify that, in cases where all registrants have lodged a preference saying they don’t care who gets the shorter name, the conflicted name will be released for general registration.


Submissions closed at midday, Thursday 22 December 2016

Published 17 November 2016


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