Rooney wins right to name in 'cybersquatting' case, UN body panel rules

Manchester United star Wayne Rooney has won the right to a Web site address including his name.

Ownership of the domain name must be handed to the England forward and his management company, a U.N. intellectual property panel ruled Friday.

The domain name was registered in 2002 by an actor from Wrexham, England, when Rooney was a 16-year-old player for Everton. Rooney subsequently filed a trademark on his name.

A World Intellectual Property Organization arbitration panel said the present owner had no legitimate interests in using it. The panel said the owner's claim that he had registered the domain in order to create a fan site was "a difficult story to swallow."

The WIPO panel said the current owner acted in "bad faith" when he registered the domain, and that it should be handed over to Rooney within 10 days unless the decision is challenged in a civil court.

The arbitration panel, which was set up in 1999, allows those who think they have the right to a domain to gain control of it without having to fight a costly legal battle or pay large sums of money.

In July, Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho successfully defended the right to control the use of his name in Web site addresses.

Other soccer stars who have recently won rulings against so-called "cybersquatters" include Italian international Francesco Totti, England midfielder Joe Cole and Dutch soccer manager and former player Frank Rijkaard, reports AP.

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