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Hot Properties

My Name Is...

Navigating the ever-changing world of cyberlaw is serious business, as even the most famous people in the world are discovering. Case in point: Last October, singer/performer Madonna won Madonna.com from a cybersquatter who had used the site for pornography. A World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) arbitration committee found that the domain was registered in bad faith.

In the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), Congress named the following factors in determining bad faith: the defendant's intellectual property rights in the domain name, whether the domain name is the defendant's name, the defendant's prior use of the name, the intent to divert business from the plaintiff, the offer to sell for profit, the history of acquiring names that the defendant knows are confusingly similar to others, and the fame of the plaintiff's mark.

Yet staking claim on a dotcom bearing your name isn't always easy. Performer Sting petitioned for Sting.com, but WIPO ruled "sting" was a common word and wasn't his name, so he couldn't claim ownership.

However, the most difficult aspect of the whole domain issue, according to John L. Hines Jr., an attorney with Sachnoff & Weaver Ltd. in Chicago, "is to remember we coexist in a world community that is becoming more interconnected. The real effort is going to be to reconcile policies worldwide."

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This article was originally published in the January 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hot Properties.

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