Who Owns Their Web Name?
You might think that you would have the right to stop your name being used in a web address without your consent. But you’d be wrong.
Rob Stubbs, a partner in local law firm Banner Jones Solicitors, comments: “In a surprising decision, Nominet, the organisation that polices web domains, refused to stop an ex-wife using her former husband’s new name in a web address.”
In the case in question, the man, Stephen Mitchell, remarried and with his new partner adopted the highly distinctive name Mr and Mrs Hvidbo-Mitchell. The former Mrs Mitchell (now Mrs Croxford) promptly registered hvidbo-mitchell.co.uk causing much alleged anxiety and distress to the couple and their family by using the website as a forum for hate and obsessive criticism of the ex-husband. Mrs Hvidbo-Mitchell petitioned Nominet to have the domain name transferred to her and to stop Mrs Croxford using it.
Mr Stubbs added: “Although Nominet has in the past ruled in favour of celebrities, that is because they have registered their names as trademarks. In this instance, even though the name Hvidbo-Mitchell is unique in the entire world, Nominet has ruled there is no free-standing right of personality, ie Mr and Mrs Hvidbo-Mitchell don’t own their own name and Mrs Croxford cannot be stopped from using it.”
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