Girl in Harry Potter Web address battle

Legal battle brews over wizard Web site

A 15-year-old Singaporean girl could face legal action from Time Warner Entertainment for refusing to surrender her rights to the Harry Potter domain name.

Christie Chan registered the domain name in October 1999, although her Web site devoted to the schoolboy wizard is to be found at Time Warner Entertainment and Harry Potter author JK Rowling are petitioning her to renounce ownership of the site's name.

"I got the domain name and was going to use it but decided I didn't like it and just hung on to it," Chan said.

Chan has been told that domain names including the words "Harry Potter" are the intellectual property of Time Warner and Rowling. A letter from Dennis Wilson, of the Beverly Hills law firm Keats McFarland and Wilson, has requested that she transfer ownership of the name to the "rightful" party.

"Our clients have a legal responsibility to protect their trademark rights, and to ensure that customers are not confused," the letter said.

So far Chan says she will not surrender the name. To date Time Warner has not threatened to take Chan to court.

In the past, owners of domain names associated with Star Trek, McDonald's or other trademarks have been forced by the legal system to hand over addresses. Last month the United Nations' World Intellectual Property Organisation ruled Time Warner as the sole owner of more than 100 Potter-related Web addresses.

Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Click on the TalkBack button and go to the ZDNet News forum.

Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom. And read other letters.