U.N. Panel Sides With ‘Dallas Morning News’ in Domain Name Ruling

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The Dallas Morning News’ parent company won control of an Internet domain name that used a slight misspelling of the newspaper’s name, under a ruling issued by a U.N. panel Thursday.

An arbitrator for the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization ordered the transfer of the domain name dalasmorningnews.com to Belo Corp. after finding that its previous owner — ZJ of Zhangyang, Shanghai, China — had registered and used the name in ”bad faith.”

Arbitrator David Taylor said the disputed name was ”confusingly similar to a trademark” in which Belo has rights, noting that The Dallas Morning News had been published under that name in Dallas, Texas, since 1885, and that the domain names dallasnews.com and dallasmorningnews.com it registered in 1996 already point to its online site.

Taylor also found that ZJ of Zhangyang, who did not reply to the complaint, ”has no rights or legitimate interests in the disputed domain name.”

By using the address, ”the respondent has intentionally attempted to attract for commercial gain Internet users to its Web site by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s trademark,” the arbitrator ruled.

Anyone can register a domain name for a few dollars, which has led to so-called ”cybersquatters.”

The U.N. arbitration system, which started in 1999, allows those who think they have the right to a domain to get it back without having to fight a costly legal battle or pay large sums of money.

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