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IP: British DNS lawsuit
From: Dave Farber <farber () cis upenn edu>
Date: Wed, 15 Oct 1997 08:26:47 -0400

Paul Sinasohn
Technical Writer Scopus Technology - HQ 510-597-5868
There is a fine line between a groove and a rut - which one are you
traveling in?

 ---------- Forwarded message ----------
 ContactRichard Conway
 Voice 44 (0)956 57 58 59
 Email Richard () Million com
 Contact Julian Nicholson
 Voice 44 (0)956 321 432
 Email Jules () Million com
 Contact Robert Burke
 Voice 44 (0)1923 835 225
 Email burkeslaw () cix com
 ENGLAND -- Last week six of the largest UK companies issued High Court
 writs against young computer enthusiasts Richard Conway and Julian
 Nicholson, and their company One In A Million Limited, accusing them
 of trademark infringement and passing off.
 One In A Million Limited have registered a series of Internet domain
 names including virgin.org, the-spice-girls.com, bt.org,
 sainsburys.com, ladbrokes.com and marksandspencer.com.
 The companies taking the action are British Telecommunications Plc,
 Marks & Spencer Plc, Ladbroke Group Plc, J Sainsbury Plc, Virgin
 Enterprises Limited and Telecom Securicor Cellular Radio Limited.
 Similar action has been threatened by the Spice Girls.
 Whilst none of the domain names are being used for any purpose, the
 companies concerned are suing for damages of up to 10,000 and are
 demanding that One In A Million Limited hand over the domain names
 This case is the first of its kind to be taken to trial and will
 become a test case of considerable importance. The outcome will have a
 major influence on Internet domain naming, and may even have wider
 implications concerning cherished vehicle number plates and alpha-
 numeric telephone numbers. Robert Burke, from the defendants
 solicitors Northwood Law Practice, commented 'This really is a David
 and Goliath case - and I'm not infringing any trademarks by saying
 that we are entering 'virgin' legal territory.'
 Conway and Nicholson, both 23 years old, are Internet enthusiasts who
 developed a vast knowledge of the Internet, and in particular domain
 names, while studying at University over the past few years.
 'It's not as if we are preventing these companies from operating on
 the Internet', says Nicholson. 'They all have domain names already
 registered that they are using to great effect - they even admit that
 their current web sites are exceedingly popular with visitors from all
 around the world.'
 'This is a case of giant corporations grouping together and
 collectively trying to bully us into handing the domain names over'
 remarked Nicholson. 'How Virgin Enterprises Limited can claim they
 have sole rights to the word virgin, and how British
 Telecommunications Plc can claim exclusivity in the initials BT
 totally baffles me, and it will be interesting to see how they plan to
 convince the Court,'
 'We did try and settle this matter with some of the companies
 concerned prior to the writs being issued', added Conway. 'At one we
 even point offered them the opportunity to take over the domains in
 return for a small voluntary contribution to charity' said Conway.
 They declined the offer.
 Conway said 'We've had many of these domains for over a year, and all
 of a sudden they've decided to group together and use their combined
 efforts and big bully tactics to try and frighten us.' 'We just
 register and collect domain names for a bit of fun - it's cheaper than
 paintings or number plates!', Conway commented. 'We have no intention
 of causing any harm or damage. If these companies had wanted these
 names originally, then they could have registered them a long time ago
 before we did.'

"Photons have neither morals nor visas"  --  Dave Farber 1994

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