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Disney wins duel with fancy dress shop over


After owning the domain name for the past ten years, a fancy dress retailer in the UK is being forced to relinquish it to Disney. Costumier Jokers' Masquerade has used the domain to point visitors towards its range of licensed Star Wars outfits, but was asked by Disney to hand it over last year. It refused, so Disney, which acquired Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars in 2012, asked UK domain registrar Nominet to step in. Now, following a three-month review, Nominet has ruled that, and five other related domains be surrendered.

Speaking to the BBC, the chief exec of Jokers' Masquerade parent company Abscicca said Disney had "thrown their teddies out of the pram," mainly because the house that Walt built weren't able to secure rights to the domain. As part of the launch of .uk addresses last year, Nominet offered owners of sites shotgun on the corresponding .uk domain. Naturally, Abscicca jumped at the offer, but Disney's lawyers reached out soon afterwards. Abscicca tried to strike a deal, agreeing to transfer ownership of the shorter .uk address if it could retain control of and another domain.

Disney declined the offer, but it didn't have to throw too many legal midi-chlorians at the situation. It simply asked Nominet to get involved, and as a spokesperson for the registrar describes it, it was deemed "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." Or, in other words, anyone stumbling onto the site was probably looking for an official portal, not a Yoda costume for their pup. Nominet also concluded that Abscicca was taking advantage of the popularity of the Star Wars name to drive people to its site, essentially under false pretenses.

You can't really fault Nominet's logic, so the fact it's sided with Disney isn't much of a surprise. Abscicca still has the opportunity to appeal, but even if the process drags on, the Disney machine probably won't hesitate to put an army of lawyers to work. Or the two could just settle it with an old-fashioned lightsaber duel. If lightsabers existed, that is.

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