Cybersquashed, Jay Leno Dept.

Reuters reports that a real estate agent who had registered the domain name, thejaylenoshow dot com, violated comedian Jay Leno’scommon law” right to his own name, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a United Nations agency. The story is here. The agent used the domain name to direct web users to a real estate site. An excerpt:

    Furthermore, real estate agent Zambrano did not have any legitimate rights to the disputed web address and had registered it in “bad faith,” according to the ruling by William Towns, an independent arbitrator appointed by the Geneva-based agency.

I suspect that the “bad faith” element will be a key to any precedent this ruling establishes. A domain name registration which had led, for example, to a parody or fan site, would not necessarily be in “bad faith,” because the domain name would have some relationship to the purpose and contents of the site.

I think this will eventually have positive effects on the darker side of cybersquatting. For example, it’s never seemed right to me that folks could register say, a celebrity- or business-based domain name–one that they never intended to use for a website–simply to hold it until the celebrity or business was willing to pay a high price to get it for themselves.

Full disclosure: I’m not a lawyer.

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