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Saint-Exupery estate bests cybersquatter

Literary estate of "The Little Prince" author wins arbitration case, evicting holder of three domain names linked to Saint-Exupery.

GENEVA--The literary estate of French author Antoine de Saint-Exupery on Friday won a cybersquatting case to evict a Virgin Islands operator whose Web site sells memorabilia linked to the creator of "The Little Prince."

Arbitrators ruled La Societe Civile pour l'Oeuvre et la Memoire d'Antoine de Saint Exupery-Succession Saint Exupery, set up by relatives to manage his literary estate, had proved The Holding Company had no right to three disputed domain names.

The Holding Company, which registered the domain names, had used a "valid, registered trademark in a commercial context, i.e. with the intent to generate commissions on sales of books and other memorabilia concerning Antoine de Saint-Exupery. This does not constitute bona fide use," the ruling said.

Saint-Exupery, a pilot whose fable "The Little Prince" is considered a classic of flight, love and loneliness, disappeared in July 1944 during a wartime aerial reconnaissance mission.

His literary estate said it was authorized by the author's heirs to be the sole owner and manager of trademarks and other intellectual property rights tied to his work, life and name.

The three neutral arbitrators were named by the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), whose arbitration center resolves disputes in a low-cost, fast-track procedure.

Ownership of the domain names is transferred within 10 days unless the loser launches a court case challenging the decision.

The domain names are antoinedesaintexupery.com, saint-exupery.com and saintexupery.com. All three link to the same Web page.

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter children's books, and the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien, late author of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, have also won cases at WIPO.

Story Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.