WIPO allows 'freedom of speech' cybersquatting

WIPO logo“Registering a domain name similar to that of another organisation and then using the URL to protest against its namesake’s products or services is acceptable, according to the WIPO. Erik Wilbers, acting director of the Arbitration and Mediation Center at WIPO, says that companies will increasingly lose domain disputes against individuals or groups that use them as a platform for critical speech against a business” according to a story this week in ZDNet.
Using the example of a case decided last month over a website, chelwest.com, which expressed inflammatory opinions about a public hospital in London. The registrant (Frank Redmond) was not happy with the hospital’s treatment of his daughter. The hospital claimed that the site’s name is too similar to its own. ZDNet reports the panel ruled in favour of the registrant.
“The reasons were: Redmond is not using the site for any commercial gain and it is immediately apparent to internet users who visit the site that it is not the official site; Redmond, according to the panel, is simply criticising the hospital with opinions which he believes to be true; and it is not obvious that “chelwest” is branding of the hospital.”
To read the full story in ZDNet, see news.zdnet.co.uk/internet/0,1000000097,39291329,00.htm