The High Court has come to the aid of advertisers seeking to
prevent their brand names from being ’hijacked’ on the Internet. Its
action marks a significant step in bringing order to a largely
unregulated medium and enables UK brand owners to protect their rights
on the Internet just as they can on other media.
The legal precedent was established by Harrods, which sought an
injunction over the alleged infringement of its trademark in a so-called
domain name, the line of information which makes up a Website
The Knightsbridge store went to court after finding that the name
’harrods.com’ was one of more than 50 which had been registered. Failure
to challenge the registration would have meant Harrods having to pay to
use its name on its own Website.
But Mr Justice Lightman granted an injunction in the action, which was
not defended. He ruled that the move was a clear infringement of
Harrods’ trademarks and amounted to passing off.
Before the ruling, a number of major advertisers had preferred to pay to
use their names on a Website rather than risk a potentially expensive
Andrew Forbes, a partner at the Simkins Partnership law firm, said: ’A
lot of this kind of registration has been taking place. This ruling
makes it much easier for a brand owner to make a challenge.’