Virgin loses battle with pornographer

We're talking about Richard Branson here, by the way

We're talking about Richard Branson here, by the way

Richard Branson's Virgin has lost a dispute over the www.virginmail.com URL to a US company that registers domains on behalf of pornographers. Virgin is currently taking advice on whether or not to challenge the decision. Virgin claims the domain, which currently hosts a hard-core porn site, infringes its rights and could easily be confused by customers searching for its v.mail internet mail service. It said the domain name owner registered the name in bad faith, hoping to capitalise on the UK company's mark. However a WIPO panel disagreed, saying the site was registered two years before Virgin decided to launch its v.mail service, and that Virgin has no registered trademark covering Virginmail. It also said Virgin could claim limited rights over the Virginmail name because, while it used the Virgin brand, the word virgin was a common English noun and couldn't be easily owned. The decision was made by the UN-funded World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) under a tried and tested dispute resolution procedure. However, Virgin still contends the matter. It says it was contacted by a company which threatened to sell the domain to pornographers if Virgin didn't stump up the cash for it. The domain name owner, California-based Internet Domains, claimed it never made that offer. A Virgin spokesperson said the company was disappointed to have lost the dispute and felt the decision was wrong: "We are currently seeking legal advice on how to proceed."