Narked about Narnia on the Net
It is a truth universally acknowledged that corporate holders of intellectual property rights have a genius for getting IP a good name.
The latest evidence for this is the story of an Edinburgh couple’s prospective domain name battle with the estate of C S Lewis (represented by US international law firm Baker McKenzie) following their acquisition of the name “narnia.mobi” from Internet registration company Fasthosts (price a mere £70). The idea was apparently to make an 11th birthday present to their son. He is an enthusiast for the Narnia books written by the late Lewis (for more on that see here), and the birthday would apparently roughly coincide with the UK release of the film of the second Narnia book, Prince Caspian, taking place on 19 June. The boy could then use the name as part of his email address. A little strange, however, that the purchase took place in 2006 – or so it is reported – anticipating a birthday and a film launch to take place in 2008.
After some preliminary exchanges between the couple and Baker McKenzie during May this year, it now appears that the former have been served with a 128-page document narrating the estate’s complaint to the domain name dispute resolution service run by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), based in Geneva, and requiring a reply by 23 June. The complaint is that “The domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights” and that its use by others is in bad faith. It is understood that the couple’s reply is going to be short. The outcome is awaited with interest. For sceptical takes on the matter from Edinburgh's pet Technollama and London's IP Kat see here and here.
Suggestions that C S Lewis would not have approved of the way in which his current representatives are handling his creations may, however, fall short of the mark. His fellow-Inkling and fantasist, J R R Tolkien, was certainly not one for allowing his copyright to fall into desuetude, as any reader of his published correspondence will soon discern, and there is no reason to think that the prolific and popular Lewis’ attitudes would have been any different.