You know a show’s made it these days when Annie Leibovitz photographs the cast for the cover of Vanity Fair. And when devoted fans sign a petition to The White House in support of appointing an ambassador to the fictional land depicted in the show. Not to mention when CNN reports a measureable increase in the number of babies named after show characters.
Now Time Warner, Inc., the media and entertainment company that owns the trademark registration for Game of Thrones, can also tout a winning National Arbitration Forum decision regarding gameofthrones.com.
The unnamed Respondent, who failed to submit a Response, registered gameofthrones.com in 2009, perhaps hoping to gain from the popularity of the book series upon which the show is based. Surprisingly, the author of the book series, George R.R. Martin, did not register the domain name – though he maintains an extensive and current website and “Not a Blog” at www.georgerrmartin.com. HBO registered the trademark in 2011, when the television series actually began.
Had the Respondent maintained an active fan fiction site, for example, on the domain name, he may have had a viable fair use Response. However, as is outlined in the Complaint, the gameofthrones.com domain (in addition to other domain names named in the Complaint, including truebloodseason4.com and newscnn.com) was being used for “commercial websites that include commercial links to third-party sites that sell services that compete with Complainant.”
In the end, Panelist Neil Anthony Brown QC determined that the Complainant met the required elements – identical/confusingly similar domain; Respondent’s lack of rights/legitimate interests; and registration and use in bad faith – and ordered gameofthrones.com, along with the other domain names in question, to be transferred from the Respondent to the Complainant. And the Panelist made this decision just in time, since the season premiere aired on Sunday, April 6, 2014 to an astonishing 6.6 million viewers.
As for how this season of the show will develop, the Panelist had no comment.
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