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Ralph Lauren retreats in po-lo.com row

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Fashion giant Ralph Lauren has backed down over its threat to grab domain po-lo.com from a village saddlery.

In November The Register reported that the URL was at the centre of the dispute after it was one of a handful containing equestrian words registered by Brit Keith Collingridge. He wanted the domains, including onthetrot.com, chukkas.com, and horselivery.com, to point to the Web site of his wife's Surrey saddlery business.

However, nasty letters soon started flying across the Atlantic from top New York lawyers Amster, Rothstein & Ebenstein, representing Ralph Lauren. They demanded Collingridge remove his registration of po-lo.com, while also warning that "cybersquatters" faced fines of up to $100,000 under US law.

Collingridge felt that polo was a traditional English sport, and denied he was a cybersquatter. So he hired his own lawyer, Prettys Solicitors, in the UK.

He has since contacted The Register to report a happy outcome to the domain debacle. The corporate bullying tactics have stopped, and on 3 January Collingridge received a letter from Ralph Lauren's lawyers stating:

"We have reviewed your Website, which currently links to Polo.com as well as sites for 'Polo-Volkswagen' and 'Polo Mints-Nestle'.

"At this time, Polo has decided not to take any further action in connection with your registration of the subject domain name."

Collingridge had the following advice: "If anyone else
finds themselves in a similar situation, please don't just hand over your domain name through unfound threats and bullying," he said. "As this dispute has
found, it doesn't make them right."

Matthew Rippon, Collingridge's lawyer, is so chuffed with his success that he has set up an email address for people with similar 'cybersquatting' disputes - he can be contacted at domaindefence@excite.co.uk. ®

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