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Tuesday, June 30, 1998 Published at 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK


UK

Appeal against Internet ban

The appeal against the injunctions is expected to take two days

A scheme to make money by registering famous names from the world of commerce on the Internet was not fraudulent, the Court of Appeal has heard.

Richard Conway and Julian Nicholson set up "domain names", which included the titles of large companies such as Marks & Spencer and Virgin.

The court was told the plan may have been reprehensible, irritating and frivolous but that was not a trade mark infringement.

Alistair Wilson QC, representing the pair, said the two men "spotted the opportunity to make money out of domain names and they took it".


[ image: BT was among five companies granted injunctions]
BT was among five companies granted injunctions
Both are appealing against injunctions granted by deputy High Court Judge Jonathan Sumption against their business and his ordering them to pay £65,000 costs.

Mr Wilson told the court: "The idea was to register domain names similar to the names of well-known companies and then try to sell them to those companies, hopefully for a good deal more than the cost of registration."

The pair had never intended to infringe trade marks or make money by "passing off" as the companies included in their web site names, said Mr Wilson.

Their registered domain names included "ladbrokes.com","marksandspencer.com" and even "spice-girls.net" and "buckinghampalace.org".

They never told the companies or individuals they were registering the domain names at a cost of £150 each but then wrote to them offering the name for sale or hire.

One company Mr Conway wrote to was fast-food chain Burger King which was offered the name "burgerking.co.uk." for £25,000 plus VAT, otherwise it would be available for sale to any other interested party.


[ image: The scheme was never intended to deceive, judges were told]
The scheme was never intended to deceive, judges were told
Five companies, BT, Marks & Spencer, Ladbrokes, J Sainsbury and Virgin, were granted injunctions in November after the judge said the threat of passing off, trade mark infringement, and the likelihood of confusion, were "beyond argument".

But Mr Wilson told Lord Justice Stuart-Smith, Lord Justice Swinton Thomas and Lord Justice Aldous that the scheme was never intended to deceive.

He said it was not unlawful to register domain names and it was not passing off or trade mark infringement.

The hearings is expected to last two days.



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Internet Links

Techweb - Richard Conway interview

One in a Million Ltd - Conway and Nicholson's Company


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




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