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Useful quadruped gets visit from m'learned friends

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The owner of a Web site which features a quadruped useful in many ways to human beings has received a letter from m'learned friends representing BAA, the airport operator, threatening legal action. The Register reader, who owns the baa.com domain name, says that his site displays pictures and information about sheep but the BAA feels that such a site infringes its rights. Owner Tom Bourke, who says the site has been ill for the last four weeks (scrapie, we wonder?), said: "The site displays pictures and information about, yes, you've guessed it, sheep. Small white furry animals with nice ears, wool and four legs. "I received a call late Wednesday afternoon (your time) from the previous owner of the domain (Michael Lawrie) who had been served with a writ by BAA Plc. The process server had arrived at 10:00 AM and had to wait ten hours. Poor lamb! "The writ mentions a number of things. I'm waiting to see what it says, as they, err, haven't bothered to deliver it yet to myself, the company I am associated with, nor my UK lawyer. I guess that's not too surprising as I'm in New Jersey, as is the company's registered address! "Apart from a few shall we say inaccuracies like:- BAA Plc claiming we approached a 'Ms Panting' of their employ (we didn't, A Mr. Tom Voice of BAA Plc approached Michael on Jan 8th, 1999) BAA Plc claiming we are 'passing off'. The web site may have claimed to be many things, but a site for a property company that has airplanes landing on it? I think not." BAA Plc also claimed that it was losing revenue because it didn't possess the domain name, Bourke said. "I did talk with BAA Plc about selling the domain last year, but due to their solicitors attempting to change the rules and breadth of the arrangement, as well as months when no progress took place, negotiations stopped. "The autumn and winter arrived with a request for BAA Plc for where we were. It was pointed out that a number of 'interesting' domain sales had taken place since our negotiations had ended (bbc.com comes to mind), and any new price would have to bear that in mind. "Naturally I couldn't let them down, so two creative quotes were made up and sent on for negotiation. For some reason they were unhappy with what they received and nothing was heard from them until today." A representative of BAA said: "We have issued the writ against the appropriate defendants. baa.com infringes on our name and we're looking to collect appropriate damages. We tried to reach an amicable agreement but in the end were forced to take this action." Formerly known as the British Airports Authority, BAA is the world's biggest commercial operator of airports. It also owns heaps of property and is a big name in duty-free retailing. ®

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