MasterCard's debit card subsidiary Maestro has lost its legal battle with a UK Internet domain name dealer over the ownership of the maestro.co.uk Web address.
Maestro lost its original case for control of the Web address in September 2007 after an independently-appointed expert ruled in favour of Mark Adams, who registered the Web address on 5 April 2006 and connected it to his own site.
Maestro appealed the case but Nominet, the dispute resolution service for .uk registry, refused to overturn the original ruling.
According to a document detailing the Nominet ruling, Adams intends to use the maestro.co.uk address "for music downloads, educational and tuition services".
However Maestro argued that Adams had registered a series of domain names, including beverlyhillscop.co.uk, bigbrothertv.co.uk and popidol4.co.uk, that are similar to well known trade marks - a practice commonly known as cybersquatting - and that his registration of maestro.co.uk was "abusive".
The Nominet panel accepted that Adams' domain portfolio has some "obviously objectionable names" and he is making what appears to be "disingenuous, self-serving claims in respect of the domain name". But the panel ruled in favour of Adams because it was not satisfied with the evidence that the maestro.co.uk domain name was an "abusive registration".
It appears that Adams' case was helped by the fact that Maestro is a generic word.
"Where a domain name is a single ordinary English word, the meaning of which has not been displaced by an overwhelming secondary meaning, the evidence of abuse will have to be very persuasive, if it is to be held to be an abusive registration," says the ruling.
Domain names can prove a lucrative business - sex.com sold for a reported $12 million in a private sale in January 2005, whilst Vodka.com sold for about $3 million last year.
However cybersquatting is a growing problem, along with typosquatting - also known as URL hijacking - which involves the registration of domain names containing trademarked terms or misspelled words that closely resemble company Web sites and are used in a bid to divert traffic from legitimate sites.» Download the document now 71.9 kb (PDF File)