Thursday, 28 March 2013

Individual has no right to domain name

In Maiken Hvidbro-Mitchell v Wendy Croxford (Full Decision _No Action) [2013] DRS 12276 (01 March 2013) the independent expert, Andrew Clinton, appointed under Nominet's Dispute Resolution Service, decided that as between two non-celebrity individuals (in suit, a third party's ex-wife and new wife) the person whose name corresponded to the domain name in issue had no special claim to it. There were no registered (or unregistered, come to that) trade marks involved, and no image rights or anything exotic like that (it pre-dated Guernsey's ludicrous foray into pandering to celebrity vanity), and the domain name system treats as equal the ex-wife who wishes to publish material detrimental to the new one, and the new wife anxious not to have her name attached to the website where that material is published.

Were the person after whom the domain name was named a celebrity (a status which these days exists independent of fame) it would be a different matter, of course, but within the limits of how domain names work the outcome is clearly the right one. A transfer of the domain name might be a matter for the exclusive attention of the matrimonial courts.

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