Initiative to extend celeb rights

WASHINGTON — The House approved a bill Tuesday that will make it easier for celebrities to block so-called cybersquatters from using their famous names to lure people to Web sites.

The bill would give famous people some of the same rights to their names on the Internet as a trademarked company name such as Disney.com or Warnerbrothers.com. For instance, if the House’s proposal is also approved by the Senate, it will be much easier for Brad Pitt to stop someone from operating a bradpitt.com Web site.

The proposal was included in legislation backed by the studios. Disney, Warner Bros. and others wanted to make sure that their trademarked corporate names and logos enjoyed the same protections in the virtual world that they have in the tangible world. Among the bill’s supporters are Reps. James Rogan (R-Calif.) and Howard Berman (D-Los Angeles).

Trademark hassle

Some celebrities have gone through the lengthy and expensive process of trademarking their name, but that is not common, according to trademark attorneys.

The Senate has passed similar legislation but did not include a provision on cybersquatters who exploit celebrity names. The House and Senate will now meet to hammer out the differences between their bills. Sources expect the Senate to sign on to the provisions concerning the rights of famous people to protect their names on the Internet.

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