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Friday, 26 May, 2000, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Winterson wins on web
Jeanette Winterson
Jeanette Winterson: won the right to use a website with her name
By BBC News Online internet reporter Mark Ward

Best-selling novelist Jeanette Winterson is close to successfully evicting a cybersquatter.

Philosophy lecturer Mark Hogarth registered the websites in the hope that he could sell them back to the writer at a profit.

The Cambridge academic also claimed sites for 129 other authors including Joanna Trollope, Julian Barnes and Sebastian Faulks.

But Winterson complained to the World Intellectual Property Organisation about Hogarth's action, and it has ruled in her favour.

Mr Hogarth had asked Ms Winterson for 3% of her royalties for a year in return for the rights to the websites.

Domain deadline

Changes in how domain names are administered led to the Arbitration and Mediation centre of WIPO becoming the organisation resolving such disputes.

Both Mr Hogarth and Register.com, which acted on Hogarth's behalf, have been told of the decision and now have 10 days to transfer authority said Rob Williams, a solicitor from law firm Bird and Bird representing Ms Winterson.

Mr Hogarth has been asked to give jeanettewinterson.com, jeanettewinterson.net and jeanettewinterson.org back to the author.

The handover will be delayed only if Mr Hogarth launches legal action to defend his claim to the domain name.

'Quick decision'

Mr Williams said anyone who owns a .com domain name agreed to abide by the arbitration decisions of WIPO when they paid to register the name.

"One of the attractions of the procedure is its speed and cost," said Mr Williams. It took only two months to go from filing a complaint to getting a decision.

Taking the case to court in the UK would have been unlikely to have produced a decision as quickly, he said.

Owners of registered trademarks have an established right to the websites with the same name. The rights of authors and musicians who have rights to their name under common law are less clear said Mr Williams.

He hoped that this ruling would clarify the legal position for those who make a living from their name. Mr Williams said it would only have implications for Leo Blair if he ever trades on his name.

Only hours after baby Leo Blair was born cybersquatters snapped up the rights to domains bearing his name.

Norfolk primary school teacher Diana George registered leoblair.com and leoblair.co.uk but has yet to approach the Blair's about the site. She says that if she sells the name half the money will go to charity.

The WIPO Arbitration anbd Mediation Centre are now handling thousands of domain name disputes.

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15 Nov 99 | e-cyclopedia
Cybersquatting: Get off my URL
01 Oct 98 | Sci/Tech
Domain name row heads for overtime
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