Internet Domain Names and "Cybersquatting"

A South African shipping company, Safmarine, has recently had occasion to use the arbitration service of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to resolve a dispute over an Internet domain name.

The WIPO arbitration service was launched in December 1999 to prevent persons and companies from appropriating the trade names of others, for profit.

A company known as Universal Artists of the United Arab Emirates registered the name "Safmarine.com". When Safmarine, which has been trading under this name for 54 years, applied to set up a web site last year under this name, the prior registration was found. Universal Artists indicated that it was prepared to change the name but required US$ 20 000.00 in compensation.

Safmarine then approached the WIPO arbitration service and the matter was resolved when United Artists agreed to give up its registration.

This result is welcomed and should serve as a warning to "cybersquatters" who attempt to profit by registering domain names in the names of well known companies, or well known trade marks.

Spoor & Fisher

Date published: 2002/03/01
Author: Spoor & Fisher

Tags: internet domain names cyber squatting safmarine wipo