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Net name row ends in silence

Legal battle averted -- for the time being at least

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The threat of legal action against ISP Freenetname has failed to materialise despite the promise by Web company NetNames that it would "protect its trade mark most vigorously". Forty-eight hours after the Internet Technology Group ISP launched its service offering users a free domain, as well as Net access, lawyers for London-based domain name registrars NetNames contacted Freenetname asking the company to stop trading. NetNames alleged Freenetname was passing off and attempting to misappropriate the goodwill invested in NetNames. Freenetname denied any wrongdoing and said it had no intention to abandon the use of Freenetname. Steve Miller, the former marketing director of NetNames who this week joined Virtual Internet, told New Media Investor: "NetNames is going to protect its trade mark most vigorously, and of course our lawyers are in touch with Freenetname." That was almost a month ago and since then Freenetname has heard nothing. Rhian Ball, development director at Freenetname believes Netnames' silence suggests they have stepped back from the brink of legal action. "Having now had no response from NetNames or their lawyers for three weeks, we are advised that this delay has prejudiced a judge granting an immediate injunction against Freenetname to stop trading," she said. "However, NetNames could still take us to trial if they thought they had a case...[but that] would probably take many months to be heard," she said. She was adamant that Freenetname's defence was watertight and that NetNames -- like fictional pirate Long John Silver -- didn't have a leg to stand on. Late this afternoon Ivan Pope, md of NetNames reaffirmed the allegation that Freenetname was trying to dilute the value of the NetNames brand. "We're still pursuing this," he said adding that the case was still in the hands of his lawyers. ®

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