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It's a cybersquatting extravaganza!

Microsoft, Reuters happy; Sting stung

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You wait for a cybersquatting decision all day and then three arrive at once. Continuing the tradition of leftfield WIPO decisions though, the one loser out of the three was the only one whose name was actually used in its true form.

And so Sting - you know, that bloke with the high-pitched voice out of The Police - has been told it's no go for www.sting.com. Just as well because the actual owner registered the domain in 1995 to set up his gaming site. His nickname is Sting and he reckons he has just as much right to it as Gordon Matthew Sumner (Sting's original name). Not that WIPO agrees with this assertion, but it did have to point out that the word "sting" is in fact a pretty bloody common one and so Gordon was pushing it a bit. (Looks at though he'll have to stick with his Compaq-sponsored site at www.sting.compaq.com.)

The other crunch point was that yer man Mike Urvan who owns the site registered it in "good faith". And this, ladies and gentlemen is the obscure phrase that is all you will need to know when future decisions cause you to scratch your head.

Thus to the winners: Reuters and Microsoft. Not much of a surprise really. Reuters took exception to a company - Global Net 2000 - which had registered five domains that were like its trademark Reuters name. These were: www.wwwreuters.com, reters.com, ruters.com, reuers.com and reutersnews.com. No, no, stopping laughing, it's true. And Reuters was so affronted it went to WIPO to get them back. (God, we only hope that there's a company called Reters (or ruters, or reuers etc etc).

So how's this one work? "Good faith" - we've told you already. Probably didn't help that Global Net 2000 is Iranian either. WIPO misses nothing and discovered that the URLs were confusingly similar to the name Reuters. But again, the crunch is that Global Net had no legitimate use for them (it didn't appear to bother to put anything on them either).

But hold on, before you reckon you can work out how WIPO works, along comes Microsoft stamping on everyone in its way. The URL this time is www.microsof.com (note the missing "t"). This is owned by a M$ reseller Tarek Ahmed. WIPO screams "bad faith" and away she goes. Apparently Microsoft at first approached Tarek pointing out the closeness of the two names and asked him if he'd like to give it to them for free. He said no. Then they kindly offered to pay him his registration fee. We reckon that Microsoft could probably pressure www.m.com to hand over its URL (not that they wouldn't deserve it - and yes, we know you can't really have single letter domain names).

And so the crazy roundabout continues. Interestingly, the "cybersquatter" who was told to hand over www.juliaroberts.com to the hairy-armpitted one is refusing to do so until she contacts him personally. Which, if you think about it, makes a lot of sense.

He's a little annoyed. As he explains on the site: "In Julia's WIPO filing, she mentions that Forbes magazine calls her 'The Most Powerful Woman on the Planet'. It's okay for Julia to think this: I sometimes like to pretend I am David Bowie, but I don't go round stealing people's Hunky Dory albums."

Nuff said. ®

Related links

Sting WIPO ruling
Reuters WIPO ruling
Microsoft WIPO ruling
www.sting.com
www.juliaroberts.com

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