Hammonds in legal wrangle over domain name
Legal Week Reports
Hammond Suddards Edge has spoken out against cyber squatters, calling for a UK “anti-piracy law” after it was discovered last week that a Yorkshire-based company had registered the name www.hammondsuddards.net.When Hammonds complained, the company offered to sell the name back to the firm for about £2,000, claiming that the name had been innocently registered for a South African client named Hammond.Hammonds is now locked in a legal battle with the company.“It was a silly thing to do,” said Hammonds’ intellectual property partner Andrew Clay, who is handling the case and is confident of a successful result. “They clearly had no business to hold on to our name, and we were certainly not going to give them any money.”The litigation necessary to challenge a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to a registered trademark typically runs into tens of thousands of pounds. If the name is reclaimed there is often little hope of the victim claiming costs as the squatters usually have few assets.As such, companies often pay the cyber squatters because it is an easier and cheaper way to settle the issue.A number of US law firms have already been embroiled in legal wrangling with squatters this year, although US law gives commercial bodies greater protection.The US already has a specific law against domain name piracy, which carries a possible fine of up to $100,000 (£67,000) but there is no such legislation in the UK. Clay, who has previously acted for the Halifax on a similar issue, feels this situation needs to be remedied. “There needs to be an automatic punitive sanction to discourage this sort of extortion from gong on in the UK,” said Clay.
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