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Cosby wins cyberspace rights to Fat Albert

U.N. panel awards domain name to comedian
/ Source: The Associated Press

A U.N. panel has awarded Bill Cosby an Internet domain name based on the Fat Albert character he created in the 1960s.

Arbitrators for the World Intellectual Property Organization ordered Monday the transfer of to Cosby, who had complained it was being used in bad faith to divert visitors to a commercial search engine and a Web site selling sexually explicit products.

Cosby created Fat Albert in the late 1960s as part of his standup comedy routine about his childhood in Philadelphia. The children's cartoon series "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" began airing in 1972 and a "Fat Albert" movie was released last year.

Sterling Davenport of Loretto, Tenn., who had registered the domain name, didn't respond to Cosby's complaint, arbitrator John Kidd said.

Nonetheless, Kidd said, "the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name."

A number of celebrities, including Morgan Freeman, Julia Roberts, Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Pamela Anderson, Pierce Brosnan and Carmen Electra, have won the Internet version of their names through U.N. arbitration.

Anyone can register a domain name for as little as a few dollars. The arbitration system, which started in 1999, allows those who think they have the right to a domain to claim it without a costly court battle or payment of large fees to buy the name.

Critics say the system favors trademark holders and not individuals who also may have legitimate rights to the names for parody, criticism and other purposes.