Tom Cruise v. Network Operations Center/Alberta Hot Rods

Case No. D2006-0560 (2006)

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Tom Cruise v. Network Operations Center/Alberta Hot Rods

World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center
Case No. D2006-0560 (2006)

Facts

Network Operations Center/Alberta Hot Rods (Alberta) (defendant) registered celebrities’ names as domain names and used the domain names to direct users to celebrity1000.com, which Alberta also owned. The celebrity1000.com website contained information about numerous celebrities but was primarily a vehicle for generating advertising revenue. One of the domain names Alberta registered was an unofficial fan site, tomcruise.com. The actor Tom Cruise (plaintiff) objected to the registration, asserting that his name had acquired distinctiveness and secondary meaning as a trademark and service mark through his long and continuous use of his name in the entertainment industry. Thus, Cruise argued that he owned common-law trademark and service-mark rights in his name. Alberta had not tried to sell the domain name to Cruise and contended that it had neither registered the domain name in bad faith nor attempted to confuse or mislead the public. Cruise filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center, alleging that Alberta’s domain-name registration violated the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). Previous panels established under the UDRP had found that Alberta was stockpiling the names of celebrities and artists as domain names with the primary objective of attracting users to view advertising on Alberta’s website. After finding that Cruise had acquired trademark and service-mark rights in his name and that the disputed domain name was identical to Cruise’s mark, the panel turned to the question of whether Alberta’s registration and use of the domain name constituted a legitimate noncommercial or fair use.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Abbott, J.)

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