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Tussle erupts between competing digital post services in Australia

Australia Post alleges its competitor, Digital Post Australia, has a name too similar to its own

Australia Post and Digital Post Australia, both of which plan to launch digital mailbox services in the country later this year, are already facing each other in court.

On Wednesday, Australia Post argued before a Federal Court judge in Melbourne that Digital Post Australia (DPA) was too similar a brand name to its own. Australia Post's digital service is called ["Australia Post Digital Mailbox."]

The judge, however, rejected a request for an interlocutory injunction to immediately stop DPA from using its name. A trial is scheduled for next month.

Alex Twomey, general manager for Australia Post's external affairs, said the case isn't about DPA starting a competing service but its use of the words "Post" and "Australia" together, which are leveraging on its brand. "Our view is that their name is very similar to ours," he said.

The case comes at a time when both Australia Post and DPA said they would launch digital mailbox services within two weeks of one another last month. Both will be competing to sign up bulk mailers as well as for preference with consumers.

"This is a very important battle," said Ivor Ries, an analyst with E.L. & C. Baillieu Stockbroking. "The battle will be fought with the consumer, and the one that has best offering at the consumer end will be the winner."

Australian companies spend AU$1.8 billion (US$1.85 billion) annually to send account bills and statements, according to a report written by Ries.

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, Ries said.

Zumbox's platform, which is in use in the U.S., allows billers to send exact replicas of bills to customers to a secure online portal linked to their physical mailing address. It's free for consumers, with bulk mailers paying but spending less than sending physical bills.

Australia Post [released few details] when it announced its competing Australia Post Digital Mailbox, but said it had been investigating the technology for years. But on Wednesday, Australia Post announced that it will use [Pitney Bowes' Volly] digital delivery system.

Similar to Zumbox, Volly is a web-based platform where vetted bulk mailers send communications to consumers who have opted in. Volly also incorporates a payment platform for pay bills.

Australia is the first national post office to use Volly. Pitney Bowes is planning a consumer launch for Volly later this year in the U.S. The company said in December it had lodged agreements with 30 third-party mailers representing more than 4,000 companies and consumer brands. DPA launched its service in the U.S. last June and plans to launch later this year in Australia.

Both Zumbox and Volly offer two main benefits: since the systems are closed, with vetted senders and receivers, there are no spam problems. Also, the applications consolidate communications from many mailers, and consumers just need a single login and password for one web-based service rather than many.

More about Australia Post Pty LtdComputershare AustraliaPitney BowesSalmat

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