AltaVista wins three cybersquatting disputes

AltaVista completed a hat trick of cybersquatting cases this month, successfully defending its brand name against businesses in the US and abroad that sought to register domain names similar to that of the Internet portal.

          AltaVista completed a hat trick of cybersquatting cases this month, successfully defending its brand name against businesses in the US and abroad that sought to register domain names similar to that of the Internet portal.

          The first decision, published October 4 by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, found SMA in Beverly Hills, California, had violated the policy of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) by registering www.altavistausa.com on December 30, 1999.

          The second decision, dated October 13, found Saeid Yomtobian of Encino, California, had illegitimately registered www.altabista.com and www.altaista.com on May 18, 1997.

          The most recent case, decided October 17, found that Grandtotal Finances, with offices in Panama City, Panama, and Riga, Latvia, had registered 43 domain names that are variations or misspellings of the altavista.com domain. According to the WIPO decision, the company, with five variations of its own name, provided no factual information on the case, and it isn't clear exactly what Grandtotal does, though it appears there are links to the Latvian banking community through the Grandtotal sites. A search for some of the contended domain names this morning found no server available, and the Grandtotal site says it's under construction.

          Only SMA filed a response to Alta Vista's complaints.

          In the decisions, the organisation found that the three companies had separately violated the three elements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy established byICANN, which handles technical coordination of the Internet. Until 1998, that task was the responsibility of the US government, through a private contractor.

          Since 1994, WIPO has offered arbitration and mediation services for the resolution of international commercial disputes between private parties.

          For a complaint to succeed, the company must prove that the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which it holds rights; that the respondent has no legitimate rights or interests in the domain name; and that the domain name was registered and used in bad faith.

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