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Name owner and internet domain of the same name

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Anyone named Grit Lehman also has a right to the domain “grit-lehmann.de”, i.e. the name owner and the Internet domain of the same name belong together, according to the Federal Court of Justice(Case: I ZR 185/14).

The plaintiff in the proceedings was Grit Lehmann, whose real name is Grit Lehmann. She brought an action against the owner of the domain “grit-lehmann.de”, who had registered it for his former partner, but had a different name himself. The plaintiff had tried in vain to obtain the release of the domain via the central registry. It also failed with its claim in the two lower courts.

However, the Federal Court of Justice ultimately ruled in their favor. He did not see any simple and reliable possibility for the plaintiff to verify whether the domain was on behalf of a name holder. Because under the existing address “grit-lehmann.de” there was only the entry “A new internet presence is being created here”. The registration by the defendant was unauthorized, since his assignment was not recognizable to the outside world and thus not effective. Any interests of his partner as a client were therefore irrelevant.

Lack of verification possibility

If there is subsequently no simple and reliable way of verifying whether the domain name has been registered on behalf of the name holder, any name holder can have the priority for the domain name secured by a dispute entry with DENIC. This is what the plaintiff had done in the case in dispute. The fact that she had already registered two other domains, including “gritlehmann.de”, in her name was not relevant for the judges. The top-level domain is still “.de” and a name owner does not have to be referred to alternatives such as “.eu”.

§ 12 BGB Right to a name:

If the right to use a name is disputed by another party or if the interest of the entitled party is infringed by the unauthorized use of the same name by another party, the entitled party may demand that the other party remedy the infringement. If further impairments are to be feared, he may sue for injunctive relief.”

Please contact us if you have any questions on the subject of name and trademark law. As a specialist attorney for copyright and media law, we are also particularly specialized in trademark law. You are welcome to reach us by phone at 0221-4201074, by e-mail at info@rehkatsch.de or make a personal appointment with our office.

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