Disney unleashed its full force to ensure a fancy dress retailer in Berkshire did not create confusion in line with the release of their upcoming Star Wars phenomenon.
The British company owned a number of internet domain names which were directly linked to the film franchise. These included starwars.co.uk which links customers directly to the fancy dress site. Even though, the company has used the domain name for over 10 years, Nominet who oversees .uk domain names, ruled that they have to surrender all domain names which shows a clear link to Star Wars.
In connection with the imminent release of the new Star Wars film, Walt Disney Company bought Lucasfilm, the production company behind Star wars as well as all intellectual property linked with the franchise. They therefore wanted to re-gain control of these domain names to prevent any confusion from customers between legitimate sites and those not connected with Disney.
During their investigation, Nominet were focusing on two facts to be proven to allow the domain names to be transferred to Disney. The first of these was to prove that the complainant has rights in respect to the domain involved and secondly, the current registration can be judged to be ‘abusive’. It is clear that as Disney now owned all intellectual property and production rights linked to Star wars, they had more than enough right to challenge the fancy dress retailer. In addition, it is clear that customers would assume a link between the fancy dress retailer and any legitimate Star wars content which had the potential of damaging the image of the famous franchise.
As Nominet ruled in Disney’s favour, the fancy dress retailer has until the 21st July to appeal before being forced to give up the domain names.