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Updated: clothes chain cybersquatting gambit backfires

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A high street clothing chain has had its attempt to grab a URL thwarted in the courts. French Connection was unhappy with a UK company using its Fcuk trademark in a Web address. It claimed this was an abuse of the goodwill generated by its £3 million advertising campaign. Fcuk.com belongs to Tony Sutton and was registered in April 1997. It is currently used by the company First Consultants UK, or FCUK for short. French Connection had its attempt to stop the Web site using the four letter word scuppered by Mr Justice Rattee on Friday. The judge said: "Fcuk is just a euphemism for the obscene expletive f**k". "It may be you have been hoist by your own petard in using such an extraordinary advertising slogan." "How can you talk about goodwill in connection with such a tasteless and obnoxious campaign?" he asked. French Connection’s lawyers had been playing on the fact that the consultancy, based in Wallington, Surrey, was exploiting the "goodwill" created by the fashion house’s £3 million advertising campaign. The judge was not impressed. He ignored French Connection’s plea for an immediate injunction and ordered a full trial. According to Nick Lockett, defence lawyer for the case from Sidley and Austin, French Connection may lose the right to use the Fcuk trademark due to the case. "The judge has already said that he thinks the use of the term offensive," said Lockett. "If he deems that the use of the Fcuk campaign is against public policy, then he may revoke the trademark." If French Connection loses the trademark, then the case will be dropped. "This is a real David and Goliath case," said Lockett. French Connection said it was very disappointed in the judgement. "However, we are confident that we will be successful when taking this to a full court hearing," it added.®

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