A US 'cybersqatter' lost the right to operate thesimpsonsmovie.com after a ruling by the United Nations' patent agency.

thesimpsonsmovie.comThe World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) said New York-based Keith Malley must cede control of his Simpsons site (left) to Twentieth Century Fox which owns the Simpsons trademark.

The first movie starring the cartoon family hits theatres on Friday.

WIPO's ruling found that Malley had registered the domain name to divert business to linked sites promoting and selling merchandise associated with the popular 'Keith and the Girl' podcast he produces.

The arbitrator said the creation of the Simpsons Movie Web site amounted to 'bad faith registration and use' of the address - a practice known as 'cybersquatting.'

The case, which highlighted the difficulties involved in managing the Internet, was brought by Twentieth Century Fox in May. 

Malley, a 33-year-old who operates the podcast with his singer girlfriend Chemda Khalili, offered no defence, WIPO said.

Over the past eight years, the UN agency has handled some 10,500 cases of cybersquatting, many involving famous commercial brands from oil firms to hotel chains, prominent film stars and actors, writers and internationally-known sports clubs.

Earlier this year WIPO said the Internet's governance was under threat from pirates who have adopted a range of techniques to get hold of domain names and create a free-for-all market in them.

Squatters register variations of top-level domain names, or 'TLDs', by using the proliferating national or type identifiers - like .au (Australia) or .aero (aviation).

In the Simpsons case, WIPO said, Malley at first used the 'movie' site to link to another 'that featured off-colour and in some cases sexually-explicit depictions' involving characters from the television series.

A lawyer for Malley had indicated the comedian would be prepared to sell the site to Twentieth Century Fox for $50,000, WIPO said. The offer was refused by the film company.