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Thursday, 2 August, 2001, 20:35 GMT 21:35 UK
Armani loses website fight
Graphic of catwalk models and website
Armani loses control over its internet address
Fashion powerhouse Armani has lost a battle for control of the internet address.

Swiss-based Armani had argued that the registered owner of the address, Anand Mani, a graphic designer based in Vancouver, had taken the name with intent to confuse - a phenomenon known as cybersquatting.

But Mr Mani argued because his business had operated under the name A.R.Mani since 1981, he had at least as much right to the address as the fashion company.

A panel of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a United Nations body, cleared Mr Mani of cybersquatting, and dismissed Armani's complaint.

The fashion house, which is owned by holding company GA Modefine, had failed to come up with any concrete evidence that Mr Mani's use of the domain name had caused confusion, the panel said.

Fight over faith

The key element in the case, as in any dispute over domain names, is whether the name was registered in bad faith.

Anand Mani poses in front of an Armani store
The vindicated A.R.Mani
Popstar Madonna, actresses Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman, and authors Julian Barnes and Louis de Bernières are among figures who have won control over web addresses bearing their names.

But rock star Bruce Springsteen lost an attempt to evict a fan club from the internet address

The club, the Bruce Springsteen Club, was considered to have a legitimate right to the address.

In cases where a number of claims of legitimate ownership are made, authorities have generally sided with the company or individual that moved first.

No prior claim

Armani's lawyers argued that Mr Mani could have alternative names such as

But while the panel agreed, it ruled that Armani had no prior claim over the name, even though its business was far more high-profile than Mr Mani's.

As of 2 August, however, Mr Mani's web address was not in operation.

The United Nations WIPO arbitration system was started in 1999 to help clear up a rash of arguments over internet domain names.

Before then, many people made a fortune by registering the domain names of companies or famous people, and then offering to sell them back for exorbitant sums.

See also:

25 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Step up for .info domains
25 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Prepare to do .bizness
05 Apr 01 | Americas
Sex site squatter fined $65m
21 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Connolly wins web name battle
07 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Springsteen loses website fight
14 Nov 00 | Business
Cyber-squatting fears grow
17 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Madonna wins cyber fight
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