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WWF Wins First Cybersquatting Case

January 15, 2000

GENEVA (AP) _ The World Wrestling Federation on Friday was declared the winner in the first case decided under a new global system to curb ``cybersquatting″ _ the abuse of trademarks on the Internet.

A U.N. agency based in Geneva ordered Michael Bosman of Redlands, Calif., to give the federation the domain name www.worldwrestlingfederation.com or see his Internet registar reissue it to the wrestlers anyway.

Bosman originally registered the domain name for under $100 last October and three days later ``offered to sell it back, at significant profit,″ at $1,000 to the wrestling federation, the ruling said.

A panel of the World Intellectual Property Organization headed by California lawyer Scott Donahey ruled that the name ``is identical or confusingly similar to the trademark″ of the federation.

Bosman was also unable to claim that the address is linked to his legitimate interests, is a nickname for him or a family member, or is even ``the name of a household pet.″

The wrestlers filed the complaint Dec. 2, a day after the new procedure, devised to stop such cybersquatting, came into effect. It applies to Internet domain names ending in .com, .net and .org.

Anyone can register an Internet address for about $100. Before the procedure was adopted, a corporation might have had to spend thousands of dollars to buy the rights to the address, or hundreds of thousands of dollars in litigation to stop its use around the world.

There is no appeal procedure under the system, although Bosman theoretically could file a U.S. lawsuit to overturn the decision. A key reason for the new system, however, is to avoid expensive legal costs.

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