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As Internet has grown, some, no doubt far-sighted, individuals have sought to make money by registering domain names. They chose names which would be likely to be attractive (necessary?) to businesses whose trading names and styles are reflected in the names registered. Some have seen this activity as holding businesses to ransom, and the courts have shown that they agree.
The case is interesting, but I am not myself entirely convinced. Very many companies remain quite unaware of their rights and needs as regards domain name registration. Does it not make sense that, if I act to register a name with only ever the intention of making sure the right business gets it, when they finally wake up to the world of e-space, and I seek to charge a reasonable fee for 'keeping it warm', I do no wrong. I do not intend to use the name myself, nor to allow any other wrongful use of it. Please be warned, that the court has rejected this argument.
The case has now been appealed. The appeal failed, and the court of appeal judgement is available in the Fleet Street Reports 1999 Part 1 pages 1 to 25. The case was heard on 23 July 1999.
An extract from the headnote:-
"The names which had been registered ... had been registered by the appellants ... because of the goodwill attaching to those names. It was the value of that goodwill ... which had caused the appellants to register the names. The registrations were made with the purpose of appropriating the respondents' property, their goodwill, and with an intention of threatening dishonest use by them or another."
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