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Wayne Rooney has won back his domain namesake, WayneRooney.com, from disgruntled Everton fan and Welsh soap actor Huw Marshall.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation decided that Marshall registered the domain in bad faith and ordered it handed over to the England and Manchester United football star and his agent's Stoneygate 48 rights company.

Mr Marshall registered the domain back in April 2002 having seen the young Wayne play in a youth game and immediately recognising his talent. However, Marshall did nothing with the domain until Rooney did the unforgiveable and moved from Everton to Manchester United in August 2004.

He told the panel that this act of "betrayal" saw him lose all interest in the boy and he rejected advances from Rooney's management company over the domain. Despite Marshall never having profited from the domain, however, sole WIPO panelist Tony Willoughby pushed the rules governing domain name disputes as far as they could go to find for Rooney, claiming that he didn't believe that Marshall would have posted a non-commerical fan site had he ever decided to put a site up.

The decision hinged on a trademark that Rooney's agent has covering the footballer's name (one of just six trademarks taken out on the hot-headed youngster). Even though the trademark did not exist for nearly a year after Marshall had registered the name, panelist Willoughby again found a way around the domain rules to decide that the domain was still an infringement of the trademark.

However, it may not end there. Mr Marshall still owns WayneRooney.co.uk - and if Our Wayne wants that domain, he will have to go through a different domain process run by UK registry Nominet to get it back where the rules are less elastic.®

Related link

WIPO decision over WayneRooney.com

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