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Virgin boss victorious in .xxx Branson pickle

Cyber-squatter owns diddly-squat in domain ruling

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Sir Richard Branson has wrestled a .xxx domain off a cybersquatter in a challenge over richardbranson.xxx.

The Virgin Group founder discovered last week that his Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organisation was successful.

The WIPO panelist handling the case found that the cybersquatter, Australian Sean Truman, lacked rights to the address and had registered it in bad faith.

Truman, who bought the domain four days after the .xxx registry went live last December, said in his defence that he snapped up the address as a "souvenir". He also claimed that Branson had "ample opportunity to register the name if he believed that his rights may be under threat by another person", according to the decision.

But "you snooze, you lose" is not a defence to cybersquatting under the UDRP's rules, and the panelist found in favour of Branson. The domain will now be transferred to Virgin.

But because Virgin is not a porn company, and therefore does not qualify to register .xxx domains, richardbranson.xxx will likely be set as a "non-resolver", meaning it will not work when you type it in your browser address bars.

It is the second UDRP case to have been decided since .xxx first started selling domains last year. The first saw the domain heb.xxx transferred to a Texas-based grocery chain. Other disputed addresses include foxstudios.xxx and kayjewelers.xxx, according to UDRP records. There have been 13 cases filed since 29 December.

Uniquely, the .xxx space has a second way of resolving cybersquatting disputes that is much faster, more secretive, and turning out to be just as popular as the standard UDRP.

This Rapid Evaluation Service, which can take down an obviously cybersquatted domain in as little as two days, has been invoked 15 times so far, according to the National Arbitration Forum, which handles the cases. NAF has taken down 12 .xxx cybersquats since December, according to recently released statistics. Each case took on average two days for a preliminary decision.

Unlike UDRP, which transfers the domain to the aggrieved party, domains seized under the $1,300 RES are turned off permanently, so the winner does not have to pay annual recurring fees.

But RES decisions are not published, so it's not clear which domains were cybersquatted or what rationale the NAF panelists used to suspend the domains. ®

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