Who Owns Their Web Name?

by Philip Wild on April 9, 2013

You might think that you would have the right to stop your name being used in a web address without your consent. But you’d be wrong. Philip Astles, a partner at Kidd Rapinet’s Slough office, comments: “In a surprising decision, Nominet, the organisation that polices web domains, has just refused to stop an ex-wife using her former husband’s new name in a web address.”

In the case in question, the man, Stephen Mitchell, remarried and with his new partner adopted the highly distinctive name Mr and Mrs Hvidbo-Mitchell. The former Mrs Mitchell (now Mrs Croxford) promptly registered hvidbo-mitchell.co.uk, causing much alleged anxiety and distress to the couple and their family by using the website as a forum for hate and obsessive criticism of the ex-husband. Mrs Hvidbo-Mitchell petitioned Nominet to have the domain name transferred to her, and to stop Mrs Croxford using it. Philip Astles comments: “Although Nominet has in the past ruled in favour of celebrities, that’s because they have registered their names as trademarks. In this instance, even though the name Hvidbo-Mitchell is unique in the entire world, Nominet has ruled there is no free-standing right of personality, ie Mr and Mrs Hvidbo-Mitchell don’t own their own name, and Mrs Croxford cannot be stopped from using it.”

If you feel you would like to know more, call Philip Astles at Kidd Rapinet on 01753 532541 for further information.