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Last Updated: Friday, 9 May, 2003, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Easyart wins domain name fight
Easygroup and Easyart logos
Easyart, the online seller of artwork, has won its fight to hang onto its domain name in the face of the threat of legal action from Stelios Haji-Ioannou's Easygroup.

Easygroup, the company behind the Easyjet budget airline and Easycar motor rental service, had accused Easyart of "passing off" - riding on its coat-tails with a similar domain name.

But on Thursday Easygroup discontinued its legal action, saying it had bigger targets to go after - albeit saying it might come after Easyart again at a later date.

"We've just got bigger fish to fry," said a spokesman for Easygroup, saying the case had put pressure on Stelios' busy workload.

Easyart, however, declared the decision a victory for itself.

"It's a big relief," Easyart chief executive Simon Matthews told BBC News Online. "It's not fun fighting a rich man like that, but he (Mr Haji-Ioannou) has surrendered and we've won."

None of our 20,000 customers has ever shown any sign of getting us confused with Easygroup... Stelios needs to learn to be big enough to coexist
Simon Matthews
CEO, Easyart
The threat to return to the courts was empty, Mr Matthews said, because under the "notice of discontinuation" Easygroup put before the court, the company will need to convince a judge that they have new grounds to renew their suit.

"In law, it means they have conceded the case, or acknowledged they can't win," he told BBC News Online.

'Passing off'

Easygroup has for some time been trying to make sure that no-one else can use the "easy" tag as part of a brand name, sending letters threatening legal action unless domain names are handed over free of charge.

It even has a special part of its website devoted to encouraging customers to inform it if they find it.

Under the heading "Please help us to stop brand thieves", the company says: "Some people think they can make a fast buck by stealing our name and our reputation.

"Sometimes these people ask us for money, sometimes they just hope consumers will think they are an easyGroup company and will part with their money.

"If you see a company that you think is disguising itself as an easyGroup company or that is trying to piggyback off our brand in any way, then please help us to protect both the consumer and our brand."

'No confusion'

But Mr Matthews told BBC News Online that Easyart had done no such thing.

"We were just sitting around when we founded the site, throwing names around," he said.

"We didn't want something that sounded arty-farty and this was the one we all liked.

"None of our 20,000 customers has ever shown any sign of getting us confused with Easygroup. Stelios needs to learn to be big enough to co-exist."

Easygroup, however, said it had carried out a survey and that 6% of customers fell into the error of associating the two brands.

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End of Easyjet role for Stelios
25 Nov 02  |  England

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