U.N. agency ousts record number of 'cybersquatters'

Complaints alleging "abusive registration of trademarks on the Internet" last year were up 18 percent from 2006. (From Reuters)

The World Intellectual Property Organization ousted a record number of "cybersquatters" from Web sites with domain names referring to trademarked companies, foundations, and celebrities in 2007.

WIPO, a U.N. agency based in Geneva, received 2,156 complaints alleging "abusive registration of trademarks on the Internet" last year, up 18 percent from 2006 and 48 percent more than the filings lodged in 2005.

"These increases confirm that 'cybersquatting' remains a significant issue for rights holders," Francis Gurry, WIPO's deputy director-general, said Thursday.

Most complaints came from the pharmaceutical, banking, telecommunications, retail, and entertainment sectors.

Drugmakers were the top filers "due to numerous permutations of protected names registered for Web sites offering or linking to online sales of medications and drugs," WIPO said.

Last year's domain name disputes involved a wide range of products, events, and people--including Airbus's A380 jet, the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Harvard Business School, Lance Armstrong's Livestrong foundation, talk show host Oprah Winfrey, and television show The Simpsons.

A quarter of cases were settled without a WIPO panel decision. Of the remainder, in 85 percent of cases the panels transferred the disputed domain names to the complainant, and in 15 percent the panel ordered no change of the site registration.

Most domain name complainants came from the United States, France and Britain, while respondents were mainly based in the United States, Britain and China, WIPO said.

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