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The Force is with ‘Star Wars’ Producers in Internet Dispute

The Internet is often depicted as a lawless ‘wild west’, almost devoid of regulation. In one striking case, however, the producers of the ‘Star Wars’ films have succeeded in wresting seven confusing web addresses from a company intent on feeding on their goodwill.

The company, which sold costumes inspired by characters from the films, registered the domain names which featured variations of the phrases ‘starwars’ and ‘star-wars’. Lucasfilm Limited – which created the films and is now part of the Walt Disney group – complained to Nominet, the independent body which polices the registration and use of domain names in the UK.

In directing transfer of the domain names to Lucasfilm, a Nominet expert found that they were ‘abusive’ registrations in the company’s hands. Their use took unfair advantage of the ‘pulling power’ of the Star Wars trade marks, was likely to confuse the public and was unfairly detrimental to Lucasfilm’s rights.