Cosby Wins Fat Albert Domain

Comedian Bill Cosby talks to students at the Pleasant Street School in Athol, Mass., Monday, March 15, 2004 photo. AP

Comedian Bill Cosby won control of an Internet domain name including the name of the Fat Albert cartoon he created in the 1960s, under a ruling issued Monday by a United Nations panel.

Arbitrators for the World Intellectual Property Organization ordered the transfer of the domain name www.fatalbert.org to the American actor, who had complained that it infringed his trademark rights and was being used in bad faith to divert Internet traffic to a commercial search engine and a Web site selling sexually explicit products.

The ruling upheld Cosby's complaint against the individual who registered the name — Sterling Davenport, of Loretto, Tennessee.

Cosby created the Fat Albert cartoon character of the late 1960s as part of his standup comedy routine about his childhood in Philadelphia. The children's series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids first appeared on the U.S. television network CBS in 1972 and a Fat Albert movie was released last year.

Arbitrator John Kidd noted he had no response from Davenport, but said that "the respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name."

Kidd also concluded that the domain name was "identical or confusingly similar to the complainant's Fat Albert marks" and the trademark was used deliberately and confusingly.

"That on its own is sufficient in the panel's view to constitute bad faith registration and use," he added.

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

Anyone can register a domain name for a few dollars, which has led to so-called "cybersquatters."

The U.N. arbitration system, which started in 1999, allows those who think they have the right to a domain to get it back without having to fight a costly legal battle or pay large sums of money.

  • John Esterbrook

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