In a potentially controversial decision, an international arbitrator has ruled that individuals could lose rights to their own names in Internet addresses if those same monikers are sought by celebrities.
In a ruling that awarded PeterFrampton.com to the guitarist known for his stint with rock band Humble Pie and the legendary 1976 solo album "Frampton Comes Alive!" an arbitrator with the World Intellect Property Organization (WIPO) declared that a Florida man had no rights to the domain, even if his name was also Peter Frampton.
The decision by Peter Michaelson, an intellectual property lawyer in New Jersey, is the latest in string of domain-name disputes that have been resolved in favor of celebrities under a quasi-judicial process established by the Internet Corporation For Assigned names and Numbers (ICANN).
In the ruling released by WIPO today, arbitrator Michaelson noted that a man claiming to be Lyle Peter Frampton of Largo, Fla., and who registered the address in 1997 under the name Frampton Enterprises, appeared to have caused confusion among consumers by promoting his direct-marketing business with an entertainment theme and posting a picture of a guitar player on his Web site.
However, Michaelson did not rule that the registrant was not "Lyle Peter Frampton" or refute the man's claim that he was known to friends and associates as "Peter Frampton" or just "Peter."
Instead, he ruled that the name Peter Frampton has become so famous that it is now more than just a personal name - even though the rock star hadn't officially trademarked his name until nearly five years after the domain's registration - and thus raised the bar for the Florida Frampton's attempt to show legitimate interest.
News source: Newsbytes