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Tuesday, 3 April, 2001, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Authors win rights to net names
Books on sale BBC
Two more authors will take action in coming weeks
Three leading authors have won the rights to their internet domain names from a cybersquatter who tried to sell them for a profit.

The names of novelists Julian Barnes and Louis de Bernières, and historian Antony Beevor, were registered as internet sites by a Cambridge University lecturer, but now the writers have won control of them.

Novelist Julian Barnes AP
Julian Barnes: Cybersquatting victim
Mark Hogarth bought the domain names, which are valuable to a person or company that wants an online presence, and then offered them to the authors in return for 3% of 1999 book sales.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has ruled that the domain names should belong to the authors and has ordered Mr Hogarth to hand them over.

Complaints from authors Margaret Drabble and Joanna Trollope will be heard in the next few weeks.

Mr Hogarth, a philosophy lecturer, lost a similar case last May to novelist Jeanette Winterson, and he is reported to own more than 120 domains related to authors' names.


In the Winterson case, the WIPO ruled that the name was a trademark. At that time, Mr Hogarth transferred the remaining domain names to a company, Old Barn Studios Limited.

But now, the WIPO has decided that this was just a "shelf company" for Mr Hogarth because mail addressed to it was forwarded to Mr Hogarth's home address, and e-mails to the company were replied to by Mr Hogarth.

The Society of Authors, which brought the cases to the WIPO, said it was disappointed that Mr Hogarth was not ordered to pay costs which, it claimed, amounted to $1,500 (£1,050) for each case.

"The consequence of the deceit is that the complainant and the others have been put to substantial and unnecessary expense," the WIPO's ruling said.

In other high-profile cases, the Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts and the family of the rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix have won the right back to their domain names.

See also:

26 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Winterson wins on web
15 Nov 99 | e-cyclopedia
Cybersquatting: Get off my URL
14 Nov 00 | Business
Cyber-squatting fears grow
09 Aug 00 | Europe
UN gets tough with cybersquatters
07 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Hendrix family wins 'cybersquatting' case
13 Jul 00 | Americas
Olympics evict cybersquatters
02 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Roberts wins cybersquatter battle
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