Hillary Clinton wins case for 'HillaryClinton.com'

New York Senator Hillary Clinton has won her case against well-known Italian cybersquatter Michele Dinoia and has had the 'HillaryClinton.com' domain name transferred to her by a National Arbitration Forum panellist.

Clinton is an internationally known political figure and author. The former first lady of the United States was elected to the US Senate in November 2000 and is a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2008. Michele Dinoia registered the domain name 'HillaryClinton.com' on October 22 2001. He used the domain name to direct visitors to a search engine website featuring links to commercial websites, pop-up ads and pay-per-click search results.

In the complaint, Clinton claimed common law rights in her name. Panellist Tyrus R Atkinson Jr agreed, stating:

"[Clinton]'s uncontested allegations establish common law rights in the HILLARY CLINTON mark sufficient to grant standing under the UDRP [Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy]. [She] alleges that the HILLARY CLINTON mark has become distinctive through [her] use and exposure of the mark in the marketplace and through use of the mark in connection with [her] political activities, including a successful Senate campaign."

Atkinson also determined that Dinoia lacked rights or legitimate interests in the domain name, and had registered and used it in bad faith.

Although a number of US politicians have failed in previous UDRP cases, the 'HillaryClinton.com' decision demonstrates that if a politician has acquired a level of fame and trademark rights in his/her name prior to the registration of the domain name, he or she may succeed through the UDRP process. The decision may also encourage other potential presidential candidates to protect their names from infringement on the Internet.

James L Bikoff and Patrick L Jones, Silverberg Goldman & Bikoff, Washington DC

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