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Chase Manhattan Bank has forced a small IT consultancy to hand over its domain or face costly legal action.

Employees at Chase Business Solutions are so incensed by the bank's bullying tactics they've decided to deliver the shirts off their own backs in a coffin to the monster bank on Friday in protect at its actions.

"We've spent around £25,000 in legal costs [fighting this case so far] and that's a lot of money for a small company," said Jenna Stevens, operations manager at Chase Business Solutions.

"And it's going to cost us more than £15,000 to transfer our business to its new name," she said.

Chase Manhattan first began sniffing around chase.co.uk in November 1997 -- a year after the IT company acquired the domain. In August 1998 Chase Manhattan's lawyers demanded that Chase Business Solutions hand over the domain, and pay costs and damages, alleging that the IT company infringed its trademark.

Unfortunately for Chase Business Solutions, the cost of fighting its corner proved too much for the Ipswich company.

"Like most small companies we cannot afford the time and money required to fight a protracted legal battle," it said in a statement.

"Even if we won and got full costs, finding the working capital -- potentially a six figure sum -- to fund the trial was impossible. We have no choice but to negotiate a settlement."

But the fearless British company won't go down without a fight -- hence the direct action at Chase Manhattan' London Wall offices on Friday

A statement on its Web site reads: "Chase Business Solutions expires in its current form at the end of June. Our crime? To have the audacity to purchase the chase.co.uk domain name before Chase Manhattan Bank did.

"Over the last two years, Chase Business Solutions Limited has been fending off the bizarre claim that they have been infringing Chase Manhattan's trademarks and passing off as a major investment bank."

Despite its heroic stand Chase Business Solutions has now changed its name to SolutionsWarehouse.Com. It has received £7,500 from the bank to help relaunch its business.

No one from Chase Manhattan was available for comment by press time. ®

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