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Lady Gaga Says ByeBye to LadyGaga.org: A Lady Gaga Domain Dispute

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Earlier this week, Lady Gaga lost a domain name dispute trying to grant her the rights to LadyGaga.org from its owner, an avid Lady Gaga fan. The fan website has already been up for three years and clearly states that it is for non-commercial use and is an unofficial fan-site simply dedicated to everything Lady Gaga.

The decision, handed down from the UDRP (Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy), must prove three key points to establish that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred:

(1) the domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights;

(2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and

(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

The above is from the UDRP.

Lady Gaga earlier provided evidence that she is the owner of three federal trademarks in various classes registered at the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the term “Lady Gaga,” proving undeniably that the domain name LadyGaga.org violates the first bullet: that it is identical to a trademark, in this case “Lady Gaga,” to which she has rights.

However, the second point is where Lady Gaga’s case fell apart. Lady Gaga was unable to prove that the owner of LadyGaga.org has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. Instead, the ruling was in favor of the domain name as it showed that the website was not profiting from the sale of merchandise of anything bearing the trademark, or any merchandise at all. The website also contained disclaimers such as “Welcome to your #01 unofficial Lady Gaga fansite,” which the decision shows clearly proves a valid disclaimer of association.  After the second point failed to be established, the decision did not rule on the third point as it was no longer necessary. The entire decision can be read here. In the end, the Panel ruled to allow the current owner of LadyGaga.org to retain its use of the domain name as long as they did not start to sell goods bearing her trademark. Probably the best quote from the Panel sums up the entire decision: “The Complainant cannot have fame without fans and fans cannot have fan sites without referring to the objects of their adoration.

This post was drafted by Heather Mims and edited by Eric Crusius.

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