Australia Post loses trademark suit against digital postbox competitor

A Federal Court ruled Digital Post Australia does not infringe on the national postal service's trademarks

A Federal Court on Friday dismissed a trademark suit brought by Australia Post against joint venture Digital Post Australia (DPA). Both entities plan to launch competing digital postbox services this year.

Australia Post, the national postal service, filed suit earlier this year, alleging that DPA's name was too similar to its own, but the court found the suit was without merit.

DPA Chairman David Hynes said on Monday the company was not trying to pass itself off as Australia Post.

Australia Post said in an email statement that it was disappointed with the ruling. "We will take time to consider the judgement and our appeal to prevent third parties from using an Australian owned, trusted brand for their commercial gain," it said.

Australia Post and DPA are racing to launch digital postbox services, which would allow companies to send sensitive information securely to people over email. The services will run through portals that only allow vetted senders to communicate with customers, a closed system that will shut out spammers.

For consumers, the applications consolidate communications from many mailers, and consumers just need a single login and password for one web-based service rather than many.

DPA is a consortium of three companies: Zumbox Software, which provides the software platform and two others, Computershare and Salmat. Those two companies already control about 85 percent of the time-sensitive financial digital mail sent, such as invoices and credit-card statements.

Hynes said DPA has completed customizing its software for the Australian market and plans to begin a private beta test before eventually opening it for the public. "We're pretty advanced in that sense and pretty excited," he said.

Australia Post's service, called Digital MailBox, is planned to launch later this year, according to its website. The system, called Volly, is made by Pitney Bowes.

Australia Post and Digital Post Australia will make money from fees charged to bulk mailers, such as telecommunication companies. Electronic billing is cheaper than sending paper through the post. Australian companies spend AU$1.8 billion (US$1.85 billion) annually to send account bills and statements.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

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