Dating site boss sparks tiff with Sir Stelios over naming rights

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The Independent Online

Dating websites Cupid.com and PlanetSappho.com may bring its lovelorn users together, but parent company EasyDate yesterday suffered a public rift with Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou's easyGroup, which could well end up in the courts.

The row erupted following an interview with EasyDate's chief executive, Bill Dobbie, this week, in which he said he "wouldn't be surprised if I was to get a letter from easyGroup" over the company's name.

EasyGroup responded to the comments yesterday morning. The company, which owns the intellectual property rights to everything from easyJet to easyOffice, said not only had Mr Dobbie received a letter accusing his company of infringing on its trademark, but he had replied to it.

Sir Stelios, easyGroup's chairman, said: "Bill Dobbie is aware of our claims and has responded to our letter; for him to suggest otherwise in the media is completely untrue. I am surprised this sort of statement is coming from a listed company."

He believes that customers will confuse the EasyDate name as being part of easyGroup. "EasyDate is taking unfair advantage of the strong reputation of my easy brand in order to obtain an undeserved commercial advantage," he said, adding: "Unless EasyDate stops using its brand and domain name, I will take further action to protect the easy name."

The chief executive of EasyDate, whose portfolio of 12 websites also include BeNaughty.com and LoopyLove.com, was frantically rowing back on the comments yesterday. A spokesman said Mr Dobbie's comments had only meant to provide guidance, adding he "now realises that his response was confusing and has apologised for this". Yet, the group said it had used the EasyDate name "in good faith" for over five years without any objection. After speaking to its lawyers, it believes there is "no unfair advantage" of using the name. "EasyDate has offered a without-prejudice conversation to try and resolve the matter to the mutual benefit of both companies and still awaits a reply."

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