Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Thursday, July 23, 1998 Published at 18:48 GMT 19:48 UK


Judges uphold Net names ban

Three judges upheld the injunctions

Two British entrepreneurs banned by a High Court judge from trying to make money by registering Internet sites in the names of famous companies have lost their battle to lift a block on their business.

Richard Conway and Julian Nicholson had argued that their plan to set up domain names for companies such as Marks & Spencer and Virgin was not "passing off" or trade mark infringement.

[ image: The pair denied they intended to deceive]
The pair denied they intended to deceive
But in three Court of Appeal judges have ruled that deputy High Court Judge Jonathan Sumption QC had been right to grant injunctions against their business in November last year.

Five companies - BT, Marks & Spencer, Ladbroke, J. Sainsbury and Virgin - were granted the injunctions after the judge said: "The threat of passing off and trade mark infringement, and the likelihood of confusion arising from infringement of the mark, are made out beyond argument."

In their appeal against the injunctions Mr Conway and Mr Nicholson said the idea was to register Web site names similar to those of well-known companies and then try to sell them to those companies.

The pair denied that their scheme was intended to deceive, infringe trade marks or make money by "passing off" as the companies included in their web site names.

They argued that their actions were no different to those who stockpile old car numbers or buy plots of blocking land to sell to developers and denied doing anything unlawful.

Dismissing their appeal Lord Justice Aldous ruled: "The domain names were registered to take advantage of the distinctive character and reputation of the marks.

"That is unfair and detrimental."

[ image: BT was among the domain names registered]
BT was among the domain names registered
He ruled that "passing off and threatened passing off has been demonstrated".

Lord Justice Aldous said he believed that the names registered by the appellants were "instruments of fraud".

The registered domain names included "", "" and even "" and "".

The pair had not told the organisations concerned they were registering the names at a cost of £150 each.

The companies or individuals only knew about it when Mr Conway and Mr Nicholson wrote to them offering the name for sale or hire.

Mr Conway wrote to Burger King offering to sell them the name "" for £25,000 plus VAT, otherwise it would be available for sale to any other interested party.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Relevant Stories

30 Jun 98†|†UK
Appeal against Internet ban

26 Jun 98†|†The Economy
Fatal flaw in Internet business security

19 Jun 98†|†The Economy
Internet advertising a billion dollar business?

Internet Links

One in A Million Limited - Conway and Nicholson's Company

Techweb - Richard Conway interview

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

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online