First Cybersquatting Case Settled

The World Intellectual Property Organization (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.

WIPO said Scott Donahey, the panelist it appointed to decide the case, is requiring that Michael Bosman, a California resident, transfer a domain name to U.S.-based World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. (WWF).

In October, Bosman registered with Melbourne IT, a domain name registrar in Australia. Three days later, he tried to sell the name to the WWF at a profit, asking for $1,000, according to a report on WIPO's Arbitration and Mediation Center Web site.

WIPO, a United Nations agency, began implementing procedures for settling domain name disputes in December. The organization identifies cases of "clear abuse" of a trademark holder's rights that it anticipates can be settled within 45 days. It then appoints an independent panelist to decide the case.

Donahey judged Bosman's transaction to have been 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.

The two disputing parties are settling the question themselves, WIPO said. The appointed panelist normally wouldn't issue a decision in such a case, but the two parties apparently didn't inform the panelist of their agreement, said Erik Wilbers, a senior counselor at the Arbitration and Mediation Center.

D'Amico writes for the IDG News Service.

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