On the same day Nicole Kidman announced that she was separating from husband Tom Cruise, she was handed a small piece of good news. Arbitrators in Geneva ruled in Kidman's favor Monday, evicting cybersquatters from a contested domain name.
Kidman joins Julia Roberts, Madonna, French stars Isabelle Adjani and Alain Delon, and the estate of American rock legend Jimi Hendrix in the Web victory.
All have won their complaints at the U.N.'s World Intellectual Property Organization, which protects trademarks and patents.
Cybersquatting — often done by people who register famous names as domains in the hope of making a quick profit — is seen as the hottest online issue among celebrities, experts say. This month, Bruce Springsteen is also due to receive the verdict in a case he filed at the WIPO, whose network of independent arbitrators issue rulings.
The Australian Kidman won her case against American John Zuccarini, who had registered numerous Internet addresses using her name (such as nicolekidmannude.com, which sent surfers to a non-Kidman-related porn site) and who failed to respond to the complaint.
It was proved that the domain names were "identical or confusingly similar" to a trademark, that the defendant had "no rights or legitimate interests," and that the domain name had been registered and was being used in bad faith.
More than 2,000 cases have been filed since December 1999, when the WIPO's arbitration center began receiving cybersquatting cases. Of the roughly 1,300 cases completed, about 80 percent have resulted in transfers of sites, a spokeswoman told Reuters.
Reuters contributed to this story.