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MADONNA VS. CYBER-MADONNA

Singer Files Complaint With WIPO
To Win Rights To Madonna.com
Following in the footsteps of Sting and Jethro Tull, songstress Madonna has filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization to win the rights to Madonna.com. Since Jethro Tull won its recent WIPO complaint and Sting did not (hitsdailydouble, 7/28), it may be the only time that Madonna has wished herself compared to the flute-wielding band from the ‘70s more so than to the tantric rocker.

Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the WIPO is the branch of the United Nations that serves as an international arbiter "responsible for the promotion of the protection of intellectual property throughout the world." Last week, WIPO's arbitration and mediation center forced a group of cybersquatters to give up 40 Internet sites that contained the word "Yahoo."

Porn entrepreneur Dan Parisi currently owns the Madonna.com site. In 1998, Parisi bought the domain name for $20,000, turning the site into a porn site. However, recently, the site has served as a sounding board for his fight with Madonna.

"We have never offered to sell this domain to Madonna Louise Ciccone the singer," Parisi writes on the site, "and have rebuffed all offers from her to purchase the domain name madonna.com." The site also includes links that support Parisi's claim of rightful ownership.

Madonna maintains that she has the right to the name, having trademarked the word "Madonna." In her complaint to the WIPO, she accuses Parisi of "holding the domain name hostage."

On his site, Parisi contends, "There are thousands of individuals throughout the world who have ‘Madonna' as a first or last name, thousands of businesses worldwide who use the name ‘Madonna' as their business name and there are 275 worldwide trademarks using the word ‘Madonna' including 75 Federal and State trademarks in the United States and Canada alone." Parisi also points to the nearly 90 Web sites with "madonna" in their addresses.

Parisi has offered to donate the domain name to the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Nebraska. In her WIPO complaint, Madonna claims that donation comes with the condition that the hospital not then transfer the name to the singer.

The Virgin Mary could not be reached for comment.

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