Damien Hirst locked in cybersquatting battle

Artist Damien Hirst is threatening legal action against a fellow artist who has registered his Internet domain name.

Hirst has filed a complaint against Internet artist Simon Phillips, accusing him of profiting from the Damien-hirst.co.uk domain name registered to him, and which could be confused with Hirst's official website, damienhirst.com, which launches soon.

Phillips has been given three-weeks by Nominet, the UK domain name registry, to respond to the charges before it begins its mediation process.

Jonathan Robinson, chief operating officer at NetNames, said: "Celebrities must wake up and realise they are just as susceptible to attack from cybersquatters as are big corporations.

"The Internet is fertile ground for domain name spectators and too many high profile individuals are still leaving themselves wide open to attack."

Phillips is understood to be submitting a robust response to the charges and will "fight all the way" to retain the domain name. He claims to have made little money from the sites he runs.

Hirst rose to prominence in the mid-90s as part of the Young British Artists scene and has worked with Charles Saatchi since 1990.

His most famous work, 'The Physical Impossibility of Death In The Mind of Someone Living', an 18-ft tiger shark suspended in a tank of formaldehyde, was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1991. He went on to cut a cow into pieces and preserve it in formaldehyde and was involved in the now defunct Pharmacy restaurant in Notting Hill.

Hirst is one of many celebrities involved in a cybersquatting case. Actor Morgan Freeman won a case against website operator Might in a ruling by the World Intellectual Property Organisation in May 2005.

Brad Pitt also filed a lawsuit against the owners of BradPitt.com, who tried to sell the domain name to him for $50,000, and the owners of BradPitt.net, a fansite that features unofficial merchandise.

Julia Roberts, Spike Lee, Madonna and Eminem have all won cases under the WIPO.

In the US, cybersquatting is proihibited by federal law under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

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