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Newbury costume company feels the force of Disney in Star Wars website row

Shop order to surrender domain name

John Herring

John Herring


01635 886633

Newbury costume company feels the force of Disney in Star Wars website row

A Newbury fancy dress company has felt the force of Disney and has to surrender a Star Wars domain name. 

Joker's Masquerade, based at Kennetside, registered the domain name in 2003 to attract shoppers to its Star Wars themed costumes.

But Disney's corporate empire has struck back and Nominet, which oversees .uk domain names has ruled it must surrender the web address.

The ruling states: "The name Star Wars cannot sensibly refer to anyone else other than the Complainant.

"It is a unique term coined by the Complainant for the purposes of a science fiction film released in 1977 and enhanced as further films have been released.

"It is highly likely in my view that any user searching for Star Wars and arriving at the Respondent’s website will have suffered initial interest confusion and falsely inferred a commercial connection with the Complainant. 

"I am also satisfied that the Respondent has taken advantage of the “pulling power” of the name Star Wars to attract users to its website via the Domain Names."

 Abscissa, the shop's parent company, has also been told to give up the following domain names:

Abscissa has until July 21 to decide if it wants to appeal the decision. 

It argues that the registration and/or use of the Domain Names are not abusive registrations on the basis that it has owned the domain name for a decade and has not been challenged until now.

Lucasfilm - the production company behind the Star Wars saga - was purchased by Disney in 2012.

The company said that as a result of the use of the Star Wars brand in the UK and worldwide for many years, a very substantial goodwill and reputation has been established in the Star Wars name and trade marks.  

Furthermore, the Star Wars trade marks symbolise, exclusively, the goods and services of Disney and LucasFilm and those operating with its authority.

The next film in the series Episode VII: The Force Awakens is due out in cinemas in December this year.

Last year, it was revealed that sections of the film had been shot on Greenham Common after a photographer snapped the Millennium Falcon and an X-Wing fighter outside the former missile silos. 

For more on this story see next week's Newbury Weekly News. 

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