Diluted Thinking

in Australian healthcare

AVSN: New Name Approved

New Name

On 10 March 2014 the Australian Vaccination Network Inc. announced that it has changed its name to the
Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network Inc.
You can view the announcement at AVN's New Name Approved.

It states that the name change took effect on 7 March 2014 and the AVSN will continue to use the acronym "AVN" and its current domain name, avn.org.au. The new name is already under fire from someone alleging that the AVSN has stolen the identity of an existing organisation. You can read more about this at Identity theft.

The banner on the AVSN's various internet sites has been changed to the new name with the exception of its Facebook page.
On 16 March the AVSN announced that it had handed over the ownership of its Facebook page to a pseudonymous Ben Rush who says he does not live in Australia. Here are some excerpts:

Hello to all fans of the AVN,

My name is Ben Rush and I'm the new owner and head moderator of the Australian Vaccination Network Facebook page. Ben Rush is not my real name but I wanted to make sure that my family would be safe from SAVN and similar groups outside of Australia.
...
I have asked the group if they would mind me taking over since I know they are really busy with other important jobs. They were kind enough to agree and now, this page will be run by and owned by me.

Don't expect to see many changes. Most of the moderators have agreed to stay on in their present roles and for that, I thank them. The only difference will be that this site will no longer be owned by the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network (AVN) ...

Whether or not Dorey or an AVSN committee member is really Ben Rush isn't that important. The AVSN has publicly stated they no longer own the page so we are forced to accept that. Meryl Dorey still posts as an administrator of the Facebook page; I don't know how Fair Trading will view this. But in my opinion the AVSN has made a huge mistake in "giving away" the ownership of it with no strings attached. More on that later.

But of course the real reason that the AVSN wants to distance itself from the Facebook page is to get the NSW Health Care & Complaints Commission (HCCC) off its back. There is a current HCCC investigation and proposed public warning already in the works and the AVN Facebook page contains posts made daily that could be the subject of future complaints.

Update 27 Mar: Meryl Dorey advised NSW Fair Trading on 20 March that AVSN does not operate the Australian Vaccination Network facebook page. But today we see the pseudonymous Ben Rush has disappeared completely from Facebook so I'm happy to call the whole thing a farce. AVSN still run the Australian Vaccination Network page.

New Acronym?

The AVSN published the following post today Apparently our acronym is now misleading?

The AVSN president, Greg Beattie, informs us that the Investigations, Compliance and Enforcement Division of NSW Fair Trading is forcing the AVSN to change all instances of their acronym from AVN to AVSN and failure to do so will result in Fair Trading commencing action without further notice to shut the AVN down and remove their domain from the internet. The AVSN made the letter from Fair Trading available to download so I've included it here:

Dear Ms Dorey and Mr Beattie

We refer to our previous email correspondence from Ms Christine Gowland, General Manager Registry Services, dated 12 March 2014 requiring the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network Inc (AVSN) to comply in all respects with the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 (NSW) (the Act), following the AVSN's change of name. That email correspondence provided for a grace period of 5 days for AVSN to comply.

The period within which compliance was required has now expired.

NSW Fair Trading is informed that AVSN continues to refer to its former name, the Australian Vaccination Network Inc (AVN) on the website operated by AVSN and found at www.avn.org.au (the website). In that respect there are numerous references on the website to the name AVN, and NSW Fair Trading is now in the process of collating that information.

In addition, NSW Fair Trading understands that AVSN may also operate a Facebook webpage at www.facebook.com/avn.living.wisdom (the Facebook Page) that also continues to refer to the name AVN. This information is also being collated.

We would appreciate you clarifying whether AVSN does in fact operate the Facebook Page.

Section 41 of the Act requires that an association must not issue any letter, statement, invoice, notice, publication, order for goods or services or receipt in connection with its activities unless the association's name appears in legible characters on the document.

Continuing to operate the website and Facebook Page (if it is the case that AVSN also operates the Facebook Page), and continuing to refer to its former name, AVSN may be in breach of section 41 of the Act. Breach of section 41 of the Act is an offence provision punishable by a fine.

We advise that unless AVSN immediately ensures that it complies with section 41 of the Act, NSW Fair Trading will proceed to give consideration to the following:

  • prosecuting AVSN for contravention of section 41 of the Act;
  • appointing an administrator to AVSN under section 55 of the Act;
  • directing AVSN to apply for cancellation of its registration pursuant to section 73 of the Act.

In addition we advise that the Director-General will also consider requesting the .au domain administrator to remove the domain name of AVN and AVSN from the world wide web.

NSW Fair Trading will continue both the website and the Facebook Page and, in the event of non-compliance by AVSN, will take appropriate action without further notice to you.

Yours sincerely,

[name redacted by diluted thinking]
Director, Investigations
Compliance and Enforcement Division
NSW Fair Trading

20 March 2014

Should the acronym be changed? Beattie argues that the hyphen in "vaccination-skeptics" negates the need to include the letter "S" in the acronym. However in this case the hyphen isn't separating a prefix, it's separating two words that don't require a hyphen at all. And by using the old acronym, one will automatically expand it to Australian Vaccination Network, which is the misleading name they were forced to change in the first place. So I trust that the AVSN will lose this particular battle.

If I was the AVSN I would jump at the chance of changing the acronym. It's had problems in the past being confused with the AVN of Porn Industry Award fame, not to mention people inadvertently ending up on a porn website when trying to reach them.

The mention of the Facebook page is interesting. NSW Fair Trading don't ask if they own the page, they ask if they operate it. The answer to that might well be a yes as Meryl Dorey is a current administrator of the AVN Facebook page.

Changing their domain name is a trivial matter. They register a new domain and only publicise the new one. The old domain can still sit there, redirecting to the new name for people used to the old one. A painless 10 second job. However, if NSW Fair Trading was to deregister the AVSN or they became unincorporated by their own free will, then anyone could lodge a complaint with auDA, the administrator of .org.au domains, arguing that the AVSN no longer qualifies to hold a .org.au address, though I think a challenge would only have a hope of success if made by another organisation with a legitimate use of that acronym.

The Old Name

Simply, it's up for grabs and anyone can use it. Australian Vaccination Network is no more. And they flippantly gave use of the name (brand) "Australian Vaccination Network" to a fan, so the precedent is set. Even if the AVSN had trademarked it, tossing their brand away like that means it highly unlikely they would win a future trademark violation case (only by giving Ben Rush a license to use the name would the trademark be protected).

Their recent registration of Australian Vaccination Network business names means nothing; they're not connected to anything, and they've already demonstrated they are not interested in protecting the brand. The original business name included "Incorporated" so can be ignored.

So, I suggest everyone go whip up a free website called "Australian Vaccination Network" (and throw in some pages adding NSW & QLD to the end of the name as well) and go change those google rankings.