Fashion Law

Law protecting squatters?

Lady Gaga’s legal fight against her fan

Imagine you are a popular fashion blogger and someone wants to take advantage of that fame so she puts up a website with a name similar to your blog but with a different domain name ending. If this happens you may not be successful in challenging the good faith website’s creator.

One of Lady Gaga’s recent legal battles was against the creator of wherein Lady Gaga alleged to the National Arbitration Forum that the website violated her trademark and was created in bad faith. Three panelists at  ruled the site could stand; pursuant to ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, in order to take a domain away from a registrant via arbitration, the Complainant must prove:

  1. Domain is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
  2. Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
  3. Domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith

For the first element, Lady Gaga gets a check. The second is arguable but the site genuinely seems like a virtual Lady Gaga shrine fan site. What skewed the decision here was the site owner’s claims that there were no “sponsored links or links to third-party websites which sell merchandise bearing Complainant’s trademark.” 

  • I wonder what the panel would say of (new?) part of the site sectioned off to list family sites, elite affiliates, and top affiliates.

Do you think it would be similarly fair for people to have fan sites for their favorite bloggers or designers?

  • My answer varies on the facts but I lean towards not allowing such websites if the original trademark owner rejects it. Although such websites may help with advertising or popularity, there are many situations where those benefits would not outweigh personal interests (such as keeping the domain name itself). 

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