Darth Vader was introduced in 1977 when the first of the Star Wars films was released. Now, more than 35 years later, Lucasfilm has secured the rights to the DarthVader.com domain name.
As of this week, according to Whois records, the domain name is registered to “Lucasfilm Ltd”.
For more than 10 years, the name was owned by the same individual named Ron Koskinen, before going into Whois privacy in early July 2012.
Of course, while it would have been impossible for Lucasfilm to register the name in the 70s, and very few companies registered names in the 80s, the studio could have picked up the name somehow in the 90s or 2000s.
No surprise, Lucasfilm has had trademarks to the “Darth Vader” name dating back to the late seventies, but the studio has brought very few public complaints against owners of Star Wars domain names, disputing only a handful of cases since the early 2000s at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Many of the disputes you don’t hear about are likely handled by Lucasfilm lawyers sending cease and desist letters or demanding the names be turned over.
One of the more notable Lucasfilm complaints was over Tatooine.com back in 2000.
Lucasfilm lawyers sent a letter to the owner Steve Mount asking that the name be relinquished.
Steve Mount had registered the domain Tatooine.com in 1997, and told a CNET reporter he used the website to post photographs and advertisements for his programming and web design services. The dispute made headlines, but the name was ultimately turned over to Lucasfilm.
It’s unknown whether Lucasfilm acquired the name DarthVader.com from Koskinen or another private party.
It’s also unknown if the studio opened up its checkbook and bought the name for a large amount of cash or if it had its lawyers send a letter demanding the name.
The movie studio hasn’t been so lucky with the web addresses of other popular characters belonging to Star Wars films.
HanSolo.com (Whois) is registered to HANSOLO Building Services.
ObiWanKenobi.com (Whois) is a parked web page monetized with ads.
I’ve reached out to Koskinen by email to see if any more details about the exchange can be provided and will update this post if I hear back.
At the time of this story, DarthVader.com does not resolve to a web page.
UPDATE 1 – OCT. 8, 2012: It turns out, Tucows donated the DarthVader.com domain name to Lucasfilm after it had expired. “In exchange, Lucasfilm agreed to make a donation to the Tucows Elves Project. This annual charitable effort is organized by Tucows staff and provides toys to the children of lower-income families in the Parkdale neighborhood adjacent to the Tucows Toronto office.” Via Canada News Wire.