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Wednesday, 9 August, 2000, 21:57 GMT 22:57 UK
UN gets tough with cybersquatters

Celebrity domain names are popular with cybersquatters
By Claire Doole in Geneva

The United Nations has gone on the offensive against the internet pirates who aim to profit from registering trademarks and celebrity names on the Worldwide Web.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has set up a dispute settlement service for the victims of cybersquatting.

Winners
Julia Roberts
Jimi Hendrix
FIFA
Awaiting verdict
Tina Turner
Madonna
BBC News.com
Since it started last December, more than 900 cases have been brought by such luminaries as Hollywood actress, Julia Roberts and world football's governing body, FIFA.

The UN wants to restore global confidence in the internet, protecting it from the continual onslaught of the cybersquatters.

Cybersquatters are opportunists who claim addresses linked to the names of personalities or companies with the aim of selling them for thousands of dollars back to their rightful owner.

For the sum of $1000, WIPO adjudicates within 45 days.

So far it has settled nearly 500 cases, mostly ruling against the cybersquatter.

Celebrity domains

Many celebrities, such as the Hollywood actress, Julia Roberts and the family of the rock star, Jimi Hendrix, have won the right back to their domain names.

British singer Sting
British singer Sting lost his appeal
However, British singer Sting lost his case on the grounds that Sting is a commonly English word.

Before WIPO came to their aid, celebrities and companies had only two options -- to buy the rights to the address from the cybersquatter or to take him to court.

Now they are queueing up for the low cost UN service.

Pop stars, Tina Turner and Madonna are waiting a ruling, as is BBC News.com.

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See also:

13 Jul 00 | Americas
Olympics evict cybersquatters
21 Jul 00 | Americas
Stopping the cybersquatters
15 Nov 99 | e-cyclopedia
Cybersquatting: Get off my URL
02 Dec 99 | Business
The $7.5m net address
26 Jan 00 | Scotland
Firm accused of net name piracy
05 Jun 00 | UK
The battle for cyberspace
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