Madonna wins her domain namesake

WIPO - friend to rich people everywhere

What a shock! WIPO has decided that Madonna is entitled to have Madonna.com. We don't mind telling you that we were bowled over when the decision was announced - it's just not like WIPO to make decisions in favour of anyone rich and famous or big conglomerates. Normally it's so fair and balanced.

However, rather than have a rant, we thought with this one we'd go into the arguments put forward. Madonna, unsurprisingly, said Dan Parisi (the previous owner) was using and abusing her "good" name to make money for himself. This is bad and so she wants it so she can make money.

Being unbiased for a second, just how did Dan defend his ownership of madonna.com? Like this: he had not registered and used it "in bad faith" because:


  1. There is no evidence that his primary aim was to sell it (the sale argument is frequently used both legitimately and fraudulently to sway WIPO decisions)
  2. The domain name was not registered with an intent to prevent Madonna from using her mark as a domain name
  3. He does not make a habit of registering domain names to prevent others from doing so
  4. A disclaimer on the site shows that he isn't intentionally using Madonna's name for commercial gain
  5. The use of a generic term to attract business is not bad faith as a matter of law
  6. Madonna cannot legitimately claim "tarnishment" because she's plastered herself in various states of undress all over books, newspapers and videos for her entire career (Parisi had been running pornographic content on the site)

Not a bad set of arguments. However, Madonna is rich and famous so she can have it.

To be fair [again? Easy now - Ed], WIPO decision on the famous name thing ran as follows: yes, it had refused to give Sting the domain sting.com. Originally this was for two reasons. One, he is really called Gordon; and two, "sting" is a pretty bloody common word. The first reason has subsequently been scratched so Sade (real name Helen) could be given her domain name. So WIPO has rested on the "bona fide use of the name" and the fact that there is "was no indication that he was seeking to trade on the good will of the well-known singer".

It decided that neither of these applied to Parisi so it turned to previous precedents (blimey, this is just like a real court of law) like Julia Roberts, Isabelle Adjani, Rita Rudner etc etc and decided in favour of Madonna. The second reason in the Sting case (someone else might have a legitimate claim to the same word?) was also overlooked - obviously none of the judges were Catholics.

So there we have it. Same old, same old. ®

Related Link

WIPO decision on Madonna.com

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