Tom Cruise is, at last, master of his domain.
Yes, at long last, the U.N.’s World Intellectual Property Organization has awarded the actor custody of TomCruise.com, and has ordered the webmaster who has been operating the site to turn the URL over to its rightful owner.
Cruise is just one of hundreds of celebrities whose names were snatched up by Canadian businessman Jeff Burgar, who used the URLs to redirect visitors to his website, Celebrity1000.com. Burgar owned and operated TomCruise.com since 1996.
He is well known to the WIPO, having previously gone before the panel to argue his right to ownership of the domain names such as CelineDion.com (he lost), KevinSpacey.com (lost), PamelaAnderson.com (lost) and BruceSpringsteen.com (won, and still maintains the site), among others.
Lawyers for the nutcase actor argued that:
- Cruise had “common law trademark and service mark rights” to the term Tom Cruise
- Burgar was making money off the actor’s name through third-party ads on his Celebrity1000.com site
- Visitors to the site might be confused into believing that Cruise was somehow affiliated with it.
In response, Burgar claimed the site was a fansite that included a bio of Cruise and that his use of the domain should be protected by free speech. The WIPO panel disagreed, however, stating in its decision that “free speech does not, by definition, entail a right to take unfair commercial advantage of a trademark.”
As of Monday, the website was still listed under Burgar’s Alberta Hotrods organization, though typing in the address led to an error message.
Other Cruise-related domains, such as TomCruise.net and TomCruise.org, were registered to Trout & Zimmer, a Burbank, Calif., firm that helps companies register and acquire domains. A rep for Cruise had no comment on the big web victory, or on whether his daughter, Suri Cruise, is real.
It’s not the first time Cruise has tangled with the web. Last fall, he was the victim of an Internet hoax in the form of a fake press release posted on a British website that touted his upcoming series of lectures on mental health topics, including one supposedly regarding his sexual preference.
Then, in October 2005, the Church of Scientology took exception to a Cruise-bashing site — ScienTOMogy.info — complaining that the site infringed on the Church’s trademark. While the operator of the site, which offers a vast collection of Cruise-mocking material, originally agreed to change the domain name, it remains up and running.
Most recently, we saw the short-lived SuriCruise.com, an unauthorized site that offered a clock counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until Cruise and Katie Holmes‘ daughter, supposedly born April 18, came of legal age.