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Friday, 3 March, 2000, 19:52 GMT
BBC thwarts 'cyber-squatter'
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Domain name piracy has become a big problem
The BBC has thwarted an attempt by a UK "cyber pirate" to auction off the internet domain names and

The corporation won a High Court injunction preventing Stephen Taylor from selling the two domain names to the highest bidder.

He had registered the names and put them up for sale on an American auction site.

We will take decisive action to stop people who try to exploit domain names which reflect brands belonging to the BBC

BBC Director of Corporate Affairs Colin Browne
Occupying a web address - or "cyber-squatting" - which might rightly belong to someone else, is becoming a prevalent menace in the online world.

But the court injunction has blocked any attempts to sell the two domain names, which carry the titles of the BBC's two main terrestrial TV channels, to any third parties.

The BBC also issued a claim against Mr Taylor for the transfer of the names to the BBC and the BBC's legal costs.

Mr Taylor's solicitor has confirmed he still owns the names and does not intend to defend the action.

A BBC spokesman said the action underlined the corporation's determination to protect its reputation and its brand in the online world.

'Decisive action'

It has a policy of acquiring as many domain names as possible to prevent them being used for commercial sites.

Last year the BBC spent a considerable sum buying the address from Boston Business Computing.

BBC Director of Corporate Affairs Colin Browne said: "This demonstrates very clearly that we will take decisive action to stop people who try to exploit for their own advantage domain names which reflect brands belonging to the BBC and the licence fee payer."

Last month, self-confessed internet gold-digger Paul Averkiou was threatened with legal action by Manchester United after he registered the domain name which he had hoped to sell for 100,000.

Legal experts say companies have a good chance of winning legal cases against cybersquatters who have set up sites which look like the original branded versions.

In America, the US Senate has passed a law outlawing cybersquatting with a $100,000 fine for registering internet addresses in bad faith.

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