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France Telecom, easyJet lose 'cybersquat' cases
GENEVA (CNN) -- UN arbitrators have ruled against France Telecom and UK airline easyJet in their battles for control of Internet domain names.
France Telecom, which owns the trademarks Pages Jaunes and Les Pages Jaunes in France, filed a complaint in May, alleging 'cybersquatting' by Los Angeles companies Les Pages Jaunes Francophones and France Online.
The two firms had been the first to register "Yellow Pages" websites.
But it lost its case over the right to pagesjaunes.com and pagesjaunes.net on grounds that Yellow Pages was a recognised name for business directories around the world and was not exclusive.
"We conclude that the public interest is best served if the net users can access to business directories through more than one company and site," the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) said.
The names were similar, a panel said, but added the holders did not use them in bad faith and had registered them to set up a Web directory of French-speaking businesses.
Printer cartridge firm beats airline to Web name
The UK's no-frills budget airline easyJet also lost its case for the rights of the domain name www.easy-jet.com to a Briton selling refills for printer cartridges.
easyJet filed also filed a complaint in May, alleging cybersquatting by Tim Holt of Warrington, Cheshire in the UK, who had been first to register the site for his business providing refills for Ink Jet printer cartridges.
A WIPO panel said that although the Internet address was confusingly similar to easyJet's trademark, it concluded that Holt was in a different kind of business to easyJet's.
"There is nothing to suggest that the domain name was registered with any intention to disrupt the business of easyJet," the WIPO panel declared.
As domain names have become more valuable with the explosion of the Internet, a market has emerged for opportunists to grab net addresses simply by being there first in the current system which is largely first-come, first-served.
The fast-track arbitration system of WIPO, the specialized Geneva-based U.N. copyright and intellectual property agency, allows firms and individuals to avoid costly lawsuits in cases when mischief is a possible motive or large sums of money are at stake.
WIPO has received more than 1,000 cases related to disputed domain names since its arbitration system began last year.
Famous names fight domain cases
Another big name to lose a domain name battle was British pop singer Sting, who failed to win back sting.com from an American. The WIPO said the word sting was "a common English word."
Companies that have won back their names from alleged cybersquatters through WIPO include Christian Dior, Deutsche Bank, Microsoft and Nike.
WIPO has also ruled in favour of celebrities including film star Julia Roberts and British rock band Jethro Tull.
Reuters contributed to this report.
EFF "Cybersquatting and Internet Address & Domain Name Disputes" Archive
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