Report: No special rights given for famous Web names

The Chinese Internet domain-name registrar may not put aside Chinese domain names for famous brands unless their owners make a formal application showing they have a legal right to them, a Chinese court said on Monday, according to a report in the official newspaper China Daily.

A Beijing Intermediate People's Court ruled that the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), which manages and operates top-level domain names ending with .cn, did not have the right to reserve Chinese domain names purely for companies that are well-known, according to the report.

The dispute arose after the Beijing Zhengpu Science Development Company took CNNIC to court after its application for the Chinese domain name "Alibaba" was refused in January 2000 on the grounds that the domain was reserved for Hong Kong-based Corp., a well-known online business-to-business marketplace, the newspaper reported.

According to the court, CNNIC was not authorized to hold back domain names, and had to treat all domain name applicants equally, China Daily said.

The court saw merit in Beijing Zhengpu's case because, it said, CNNIC should wait for formal applications for domain names and not hold back names on its own initiative, the newspaper reported.

However, the court eventually ruled against Beijing Zhengpu because the Chinese domain name "Alibaba" had been registered by in the intervening period, the report said.

The court's decision also confirmed the necessity to apply similar rules for names of administrative divisions, governmental organizations and educational organizations, China Daily said.

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