Legal Battle Over Narnia Domain Name

    June 16, 2008

A Scottish father has become entangled in a legal battle with the estate of author C.S. Lewis after purchasing a Narnia Internet domain name for his 10-year-old son as a birthday present.

Richard and Gillian Saville-Smith, of Edinburgh, paid $140 to buy the domain name from the Internet registration company Fasthosts in 2006 so their son could use it as an email address.

The C.S. Lewis Company, owner of the author’s estate requested they return the domain name but the family refused. The family then received a 128-page legal complaint filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

"We’d been saving it as a surprise for our little boy’s birthday, to coincide with the release of the Narnia film," Mrs. Saville-Smith told Reuters referring to the British release of "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian."

"Our whole family are great admirers of C.S. Lewis and he must be turning in his grave about all this," added Mrs. Saville-Smith, who is an award-winning Scottish poet.

The family must respond to WIPO by June 23 and the group will make a ruling within a month.

Mr. Saville- Smith said he has never made any money from the domain name and has no interest in using it to generate a profit.

"We don’t have the money to hire intellectual property lawyers, so we’re saying ‘help’. One thing for sure is that our response won’t be 128 pages long, it will be more like 10 pages — we’re looking at quality rather than quantity."

No matter which way WIPO rules the decision can be appealed by either party.