Boston Red Sox right-fielder wins 'TrotNixon.com'
In Nixon v Kaine, National Arbitration Forum panellist Tyrus R Atkinson Jr has ordered the transfer of 'TrotNixon.com' to Major League Baseball player Trot Nixon, finding that the respondent's use of the domain name to attract internet users to a pornographic website constituted bad faith.
Lucian Kaine registered 'TrotNixon.com' in January 2003. Prior to that registration, the domain name had led to a site operated by a fan of Nixon and contained news and statistics relating to the right-fielder and the Boston Red Sox. When Kaine obtained the domain name, he used it in conjunction with a website displaying sexually explicit information and photographs, with no mention of either Nixon or his team.
Applying the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, Atkinson stated that it is well established that celebrities have sufficient rights in their names to satisfy the requirement in Paragraph 4(a)(i) that the "domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights".
He also determined, pursuant to Paragraph 4(a)(ii), that Kaine has no legitimate rights or interests in 'TrotNixon.com', finding that he had capitalized on the unauthorized use of Nixon's famous name to lure visitors to his porn site.
Atkinson further concluded, pursuant to Paragraph 4(a)(iii), that the domain name had been registered and used in bad faith, finding that the content displayed on the website allowed the inference - since Kaine had failed to file a response - that he was benefiting commercially.
This decision is in line with recent celebrity names decisions and provides additional support for the proposition that celebrities possess common law trademark rights in their full names. (See also Country music star wins personal name case, NBA star scores in celebrity cybersquatting case, and Author succeeds in obtaining 'michaelcrichton.com').
James L Bikoff and Patrick L Jones, Silverberg Goldman & Bikoff, Washington DC (with the assistance of Steven P Shaw, Georgetown University Law Centre)
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