Consumers and the magazine industry are big winners from a court decision yesterday in the battle between rival internet publications, according to IDG Communications managing director Martin Taylor.
IDG is the publisher of the new Net Magazine, which was the subject of an injunction application by Industrial Press Limited, the publisher of rival NetGuide. IPL claimed that consumers had been confused by Net Magazine and that it was too similar to NetGuide. The company obtained an interim injunction against the IDG publication just before Christmas.
Justice Fisher yesterday upheld IDG's right to publish an Internet-related magazine in the glossy A5 format, but ordered that the first part of the publication's title be expanded from "Net" to "Internet".
"We'll be complying with the court's instruction that we expand the abbreviation 'Net' in its title to the full word 'Internet'," says Taylor. "We strongly believe the names 'Net' and 'NetGuide' are distinct and different, but we're happy to comply in the meantime pending further consideration. Our readers might even get to like it."
Taylor says IDG was "naturally concerned to get our magazine back onto newsstands, but we'd have been more disturbed for consumers and the industry as a whole if we'd been forced to back down on the major issues at stake in this case."
Taylor says IDG stood its ground against "some very aggressive tactics" and that in ruling out NetGuide's application for much more radical changes, Justice Fisher has acted reasonably in the limited circumstances of an interim injunction hearing.
Taylor says IDG's position has been that the original claim by NetGuide that newsstand purchasers were confused was "dramatically exaggerated".
"Net Magazine has sold extremely well and our position continues to be that this wasn't at NetGuide's expense as claimed. Preliminary sales data show clearly that the entry of Net Magazine has nearly doubled the size of this market."
Taylor says first issue sales for Net Magazine are estimated to have topped 15,000 copies, putting it among the top 50 New Zealand magazine titles in the country.
"We are relieved that [the judge's] ruling has preserved our right to publish a high quality, glossy magazine in the less widely-used but international standard A5 size, and that we can choose the sorts of stories we run and their layout without interference."
The magazine will be back on newstands February 13 under the amended title "Internet" magazine. In the meantime, Taylor says IDG and its lawyers have yet to review the detail of the judgement to decide whether to take the matter further.
"Right now, we're pleased to have it behind us and to be back in business as usual," says Taylor.