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Startup fends off Sun in domain dispute

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Sun Microsystems has failed in its bid to wrest control of the domain esun.biz from small UK start-up Esun Limited using the STOP proceedings.

Under STOP, .biz registry Neulevel's Start Up Opposition Policy, a party which believes it has intellectual property rights to a particular domain name can apply to have that name transferred to it, if it can demonstrate a right to the name.

Sun filed a complaint under STOP in April this year following the registration of esun.biz by Esun, a telecoms dealer specialising in selling pre-paid and post-paid international calling cards, last August. The computer giant alleged that the domain esun.biz was registered in bad faith, an accusation strongly denied by Esun director Jennifer O'Flynn who said the company plans to use Esun.biz as its trading name and main Web site.

A World Intellectual Property Organisation panel didn't delve too deeply into the rights and wrongs of the case, however, finding against Sun because it "failed to show that it holds rights in an identical trademark". This meant the complaint fell at the first hurdle.

Sun has applied to trademark Esun but its application is still pending, and thus given no status by the WIPO panel. The possibility of confusion between Sun and Esun was also dismissed as irrelevant to proceedings.

O'Flynn doesn't know whether Sun will appeal the ruling of the sole WIPO panellist, Hugues G. Richard, but she says the decision in her favour shows small companies can sometimes successfully oppose large corporations.

"Although the procedures regarding STOP can be overwhelming, it is possible for a small company to effectively take on a large corporation and win, despite the lack of similar resources," she told us. ®

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