E-mail name scam costs duo pounds 65, 000

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The Independent Online
Two men who profited by registering Internet "domain names", the essential part of website and e-mail addresses, belonging to trading giants including Sainsbury's and the Virgin group, were facing ruin yesterday. They were ordered to pay pounds 65,000 court costs after being banned by the High Court yesterday from infringing trademarks and "passing-off".

Richard Conway and Julian Nicholson had specialised in registering domain names such as "ladbrokes.com", "marksandspencer.com" - and even "spice- girls.net" and "buckinghampalace.org" - without the consent of the owners of the trademarks. They then wrote to the owners offering them for sale. But Deputy Judge Jonathan Sumption QC ordered them to pay pounds 65,000 of legal costs after BT, Marks & Spencer, Ladbrokes, J Sainsbury and Virgin Enterprises brought an action against the duo, who had claimed that their activity was like collecting novelty postcards.

The judge also instructed the men to take steps to have the disputed names assigned to the companies. He said the men's activities "followed over a substantial period of time... are plainly intended to deceive."