RealTime IT News

Material Girl Domain Dispute

She's a material girl in a material world. So, little surprise that the diva of pop is on the prowl to claim the Madonna.com domain name under the World Intellectual Property Organization's shameless arbitration authority related specifically to "famous and well-known" brands. But in this case, there's a catch. Showing she's not the sharpest tool in the shed, 42-year old Madonna Louise Ciccone is under the eccentric impression she's the most famous woman to ever take the name.

In a classic turnabout-is-fair-play, Madonna happens to be trying to wrestle the domain from Dan Parisi, the infamous owner of New Jersey-based WhiteHouse.com. Not only is Parisi a reluctant peddler of porn on the Web, he's also registered a who's-who list of more than 500 blue-chip corporate names with the suffix 'sucks.com.' His grand scheme was to originally build a portal for consumers to air their grievances on virtually any Fortune 500 company. Parisi even shelled out $5,000 for the domain Microsoftsucks.com to pry it from one lucky individual who'd already claimed the name.

So what's all this have to do with Madonna.com? Well, for starters, Parisi is well-schooled on his rights related to the domain name game in addition to being a pseudo-activist on the subject. He's a rabble-rousing graybeard who's tangoed with the likes of Netscape over his use of the domain NetscapeSucks.com, long before issues of free speech and trademark law on the Internet made intriguing water-cooler chit-chat.

Additionally, Parisi is no stranger to riding the nerves of some prominent Beltway Boys. A couple of moons ago, a handful of overanxious Congressmen tried unsuccessfully to pass legislation that would have made it illegal to use government agency names for commercial Web properties. The bottom line is - Parisi wasn't spooked by Netscape's legal saber-rattling or lawmakers' attempts at creating an unconstitutional roadblock, and he's not likely to blink now.

Part of the WIPO criteria used to determine if a domain is considered a famous and well-known brand and if it should be delivered to the Complainant (in this case Madonna), is whether the Respondent (Parisi) registered and used the domain in "bad faith." Typically, bad faith can be charged if the registrant has actually attempted to sell the domain name to the Complainant or any highest bidder. That hasn't happened in this case, and that's about the only avenue Madonna could have taken to hijack the domain from Parisi.

The only other recourse would be to argue that Madonna Ciccone is the most famous figure in the history of mankind to have ever taken the name Madonna. So, the Material Girl had better get used to scrounging for domain name scraps like everyone else. And who knows, perhaps she'd have better luck laying claim to primadonna.com.

Any questions or comments, love letters or hate mail? As always, feel free to forward them to kblack@internet.com.

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