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Gooooal! Ronaldinho scores his own domain name

Open and shut case this one

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Brazilian and Barcelona football star Ronaldinho has won his namesake domain name, www.ronaldinhogaucho.com.

The decision by domain arbitration body WIPO is one of a rare breed concerning famous names, in that it was an open and shut case. Ignoring the fact that Ronaldinho Gaucho is actually called Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, and the former is his professional name, he met all the criteria for the domain to be handed over without the rules having to be bent.

Firstly, unlike most situations in which famous people have been handed domain names, his agent has applied for the registration of eleven trademarks over the name Ronaldinho Gaucho - in fact, he did it in February 2000. Ronaldinho has a clear interest in the name since he has numerous sponsorship deal with, among others, Nike, Pepsi and Electronic Arts.

The person who registered the domain clearly did so knowing who Ronaldinho was because the domain was only registered in July this year, nearly a year after he'd joined the most high-profile club in the world - FC Barcelona - and after he'd picked up a World Cup winners' medal for Brazil. The site, as was, sold links to other sites with Ronaldinho-related content, as well as the usual gambling sites.

There is still an argument for the registrant's rights to the domain here though in that if Ronaldinho hasn't seen fit to register his most obvious domain name, when four years earlier his agent had had the nous to apply for trademarks to his name, then his rights to it are surely diminished. Unfortunately, this defence has yet to be fully argued within the trademark-friendly domain arbitration system.

Such a defence would have been wiped out however by the fact that the registrant - one Goldmark - Cd Webb, but in reality David L. Webb of Texas - not only didn't bother to respond to the case but also gave a false telephone number.

Webb also has a history, having lost several other domains through the domain arbitration system for virtually the same thing. In both "nikeshoes.com" and "schwinnbikes.com" he failed to respond to the complaint, and in "wbbm.com" gave only a cursory response. He did however respond to the complaint brought against "vitalityonline.com", which he rightly won, demonstrating he understands UDRP rules.

Nonetheless, single panellist Miguel B. O'Farrell gave the process due thought and decided that since the "Respondent failed to file a reply and therefore it did not bring to these proceedings any element to show that it has rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name" that he was deciding in Ronaldinho's favour.

Ronaldinho already has the domains "ronaldinhogaucho.info" and "ronaldinhogaucho.com.br" but the fact he hasn't gone after "ronaldinho.com" demonstrates a pleasant lack of ego-mania that so often afflicts his fellow football stars. ®

Related link WIPO's decision over RonaldinhoGaucho.com

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