The complaint was filed against Russell Boyd, a New Jersey entrepreneur, who had registered the domain name juliaroberts.com.
WIPO’s arbitration panel ruled she had common law trade mark rights in her name, and that Boyd had “no rights or legitimate interest in the domain name” and registered it in bad faith, having placed the name for sale (with other famous names he had registered) on the eBay.com web site.
The panel has ordered Boyd to transfer the name to Julia Roberts within 45 days. He has 10 days to challenge the decision. He has made a plea on the web site at juliaroberts.com for a lawyer to offer his or her services free of charge to help him fight the decision. He argues that Roberts did not contact him to request the transfer of the name before taking action before WIPO.
Boyd said in his written pleadings in response to the complaint that he “had a sincere interest in the actor,” and said that if “Julia had picked up a phone and said, ‘Hi Russ, can we talk about the domain name juliaroberts.com?’ she would own it by now.” He then concluded, “But as I mentioned at the beginning of this response, I still think Julia is nifty crazy wacko cool.”
Last month, British author Jeanette Winterson won back the domain for her name from a cybersquatter. The case established that, in cases before WIPO, legal rights in a trade mark did not require that the trade mark be registered.
For further information on cybersquatting, see our guide on Branding and Intellectual Property.