I have registered two internet domains “.it” corresponding to the names of two famous videogames, which are now of public use. Now the importing company has written to me telling me to give them, free of charge, the domains, otherwise they will legally act against me: is it possible that they are right?

There could really be a possibility that the firm could demand in its favour the registered domains, but to establish this we need to examine the situation carefully. First of all it is necessary knowing the nature of the names of the used games. If these are generic names and of common use, for example “briscola” referring to the card game, it is evident that nobody could claim any exclusivity on it. On the other hand, if these names, even though they are famous and of public knowledge are not so generic, then the matter changes. In such case, it is necessary to check if trademarks have been registered on those names in Italy, as the right on marks, unlikely what happens for patents, in theory lasts for ever, therefore it does not matter if they have become well known. The name of the game “monopoly”, for example, is registered as a trademark and even though is known and used by everybody, no one can use it without the authorization of the same trademark’s holder. In the case in question, the importing firm could have the license for the use of the game name in Italy, and, therefore it could quite rightly act against the owner of the domains to get them assigned in his favour. Thereby, it is advisable to make a direct check, meaning asking the firm to supply proof of what has been stated so to avoid useless complications and expenses. Only after having established possible patents or the inexistence of them, you can decide what to do.