WIPO tells cybersquatter to return domain name

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has settled its first case of cybersquatting, the practice of registering for an Internet domain name with the intention of profiting from the resale of the name.

In a statement issued Friday, WIPO said the panelist it appointed to decide the case is requiring that Michael Bosman, a California resident, transfer a domain name to the US-based World Wrestling Federation Entertainment (WWF).

In October Bosman registered the name worldwrestlingfederation.com with Melbourne IT, a domain name registrar based in Australia. Three days later, he tried to sell the name back to the WWF at a profit -- asking for $1000, according to a report on the Web site of WIPO's Arbitration and Mediation Centre.

WIPO began implementing new procedures for settling domain name disputes in December. The WIPO now decides cases of "clear abuse" of a trademark holder's rights that the organisation anticipates can be settled within 45 days. WIPO appoints an independent panelist to decide the case, most of whom have experience with trademark law or the Internet, according to Erik Wilbers, senior counselor with WIPO's arbitration and mediation centre.

The panelist in WIPO's first cybersquatting case, the independent panelist Scott Donahey judged Bosman's transaction to be made in bad faith. The domain name he registered is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark and service mark of the WWF, and the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the name, Donahey said.

Separately, the two disputing parties are settling the issue between them, WIPO said. Normally, the appointed panelist would not issue a decision in such a case, but the two parties apparently did not inform the panelist of their agreement, Wilbers said.

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