Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Domain name dispute over Narnia

A family in Edinburgh has been the recipient of a WIPO domain name complaint as a result of their purchase of a Narnia domain name. Richard and Gillian Saville-Smith purchased the domain name narnia.mobi as a gift for their son so that he could use it as his email address. However, C.S. Lewis' estate has filed a complaint using WIPO's domain name dispute resolution mechanism (case D2008-0821).

The value of the domain name is quite evident, as Disney and C.S. Lewis Ltd will certainly be thinking of using it to further promote the popular franchise of Narnia books. Given WIPO's well-documented track record to support the trade mark holder, I am guessing that the result of this dispute could be a foregone conclusion.

This story has internet meme written all over it. Corporate greedy interests, Disney, and unscrupulous estates plot together against hard-working family who want nothing more than to give their son a birthday gift. C.S. Lewis is "rolling in his grave" according to the family. I may surprise some people here, but I have to say that I do not have any sympathy for the parents in this case, even if they are from Edinburgh. Domain name law is clearly moving towards trade mark, and a domain name can be a valuable commodity. If that is the case, what sort of right can this family claim over the domain "narnia.mobi" other than the fact that they registered early? The C.S. Lewis estate holds the trade mark, so it is perfectly valid to assume that they would have a better claim over the domain name than a random family from Scotland.

I would like to own the domain "lordoftherings.com", but it ain't gonna happen, is it?


Anonymous said...

Normaly if you have a right reason to use the domain, you could be able to keep the domain.
Let say, if I have an apple farm and I registered domain name "apple.info", I use this domain just to do the marketing for my apple business, (not computer....). Without the good reason, the domain will be bellong to the trade mark owner.

I have just do a search for Narnia.mobil domain registration information and here is the whois result:

Domain ID:D453114-MOBI
Created On:29-Sep-2006 22:40:08 UTC
Last Updated On:28-May-2008 13:32:32 UTC
Expiration Date:29-Sep-2008 22:40:08 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:Tucows Inc (69)
Created by Registrar:Tucows Inc (69)
Last Updated by Registrar:Tucows Inc (69)
Registrant ID:tuF7EA3K5o1NEQ78
Registrant Name:Richard Saville-Smith
Registrant Organization:Richard Saville-Smith
Registrant Street1:4 Grosvenor Gardens
Registrant City:Edinburgh
Registrant State/Province:Midlothian
Registrant Postal Code:EH125JU
Registrant Country:GB
Registrant Phone:+44.01313468007
Registrant Email:ferenish@tiscali.co.uk
Admin ID:tuF7EA3K5o1NEQ78
Admin Name:Richard Saville-Smith
Admin Organization:Richard Saville-Smith
Admin Street1:4 Grosvenor Gardens
Admin City:Edinburgh
Admin State/Province:Midlothian
Admin Postal Code:EH125JU
Admin Country:GB
Admin Phone:+44.01313468007
Admin Email:ferenish@tiscali.co.uk
Tech ID:tuF7EA3K5o1NEQ78
Tech Name:Richard Saville-Smith
Tech Organization:Richard Saville-Smith
Tech Street1:4 Grosvenor Gardens
Tech City:Edinburgh
Tech State/Province:Midlothian
Tech Postal Code:EH125JU
Tech Country:GB
Tech Phone:+44.01313468007
Tech Email:ferenish@tiscali.co.uk

Zak Muscovitch said...

As a follow-up to this post, the domain name was in fact taken away and transferred. See: http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/decisions/html/2008/d2008-0821.html.

Non-commercial use should have been safeguarded and it wasn't:

"For the reasons discussed under the preceding heading of this decision, the Panel cannot envision any plausible, good faith basis upon which the Respondent could have concluded that he was free to appropriate the Complainant’s distinctive and widely known NARNIA mark for use as a personal email address."

Not plausible to have a non-commercial use, ie a personal email address? Surely this is a protected legitimate interest and was done in good faith.

Zak Muscovitch