UK domain name speculators lose in court

Five British corporations have won the legal right to stop speculators registering their names as domain names on the Internet. In a judgment reached in London last week, two men - Richard Conway and Julian Nicholson - were ordered to pay 65,000 pounds in legal costs and to reassign domain names to the companies to which they related. The pair had registered a range of well-known British companies and institutions as domain names - including buckinghampalace.org and spice-girls.net - and then had tried to sell them back to those associated with the names.

Five British corporations have won the legal right to stop speculators registering their names as domain names on the Internet, in a ruling that is expected to help other British companies protect their trademarks and their Internet names.

In a judgment reached in London last week, two men - Richard Conway and Julian Nicholson - were ordered to pay 65,000 pounds (US$106,000) in legal costs and to reassign domain names to the companies to which they related.

The court heard that Conway and Nicholson had registered a range of well-known British companies and institutions as domain names -- including buckinghampalace.org and spice-girls.net -- and then had tried to sell them back to those associated with the names. For example, Conway had asked Burger King to pay 25,000 pounds for burger-king.co.uk.

The companies that brought the case against the two men were British Telecommunications PLC, food retailer J. Sainsbury PLC, travel and entertainment purveyor Virgin Group, retailer Marks & Spencer and bookmaker Ladbroke PLC.

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