Brazilian midfielder Ronaldinho of FC Barcelona, edged out for European Footballer of the Year, won a cybersquatting case against a U.S. web site operator in a ruling by an international arbitrator on Thursday.
Ronaldo de Assis Moreira proved that he has common law trademark rights on his professional name Ronaldinho Gaucho, according to Argentine arbitrator Miguel O'Farrell.
The ruling was announced by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a United Nations agency that offers a fast-track low-cost procedure to resolve domain name disputes.
The disputed domain name, www.ronaldinhogaucho.com, was registered last July by the U.S.-based Goldmark-CD Webb. Its domain name hosts a web page offering commercial pay-per-click links to third partywebsites, under such listings as Ronaldinho Gaucho's videos and Barcelona, according to the ruling.
O'Farrell found that Goldmark-CD Webb had no rights or legitimate interest in the domain name, which it had used to attract Internet users to the website for commercial gain "by creating a likelihood of confusion in users' minds".
The domain name is automatically transferred to Ronaldinho within 10 days unless the loser launches a court case challenging the decision.
Italy's Francesco Totti, Dutch defender Jaap Stam, Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole and U.S. teen soccer prodigy Freddy Adu are among other players to have won domain name cases at WIPO.
On Monday, Ronaldinho placed third in voting for European Footballer of the Year, won by Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko of AC Milan, followed by Portuguese forward Deco.