Anti-scam site beats domain attack
European City Guide on last legs
Anti-scam website StopECG.org has been vindicated in a domain dispute judgement brought by the subject of its attention - European City Guide.
The National Arbitration Forum refused ECG’s request that the domain be handed over to it for alleged trademark infringement. Instead, it followed an increasing body of arbitration decisions supporting protest sites that use the words “stop” and “sucks” to describe their critical approach to companies.
Despite its findings however, the NAF denied StopECG’s owner Jules Woodell request to find that ECG was guilty of domain name hijacking. It means that while Mr Woodell gets to keep the domain, he will not be compensated for the costs he encountered in disproving ECG’s case.
The whole issue may be somewhat moot though as European City Guide has finally run foul of the countries that have allowed it to continue trading. Last month, the Spanish courts demanded the company be closed and pay a reported £200,000 fine. In August, another of its arms, based in tax haven Lichtenstein, was shutdown by an obscure legal clause that claimed its business was “injurious to the State”.
European City Guide has been running a scam listing service for businesses all over Europe. Companies receive what appears to be a free listing on its website but soon after receive £500 invoices for its services. The invoices are then aggressively chased up by a debt recovery agency, which adds its own services to the outstanding invoice, increasing the debt each time.
Mr Woodell set up the site after he was caught out by the scam and has seen repeated attempts by ECG to shut him down, including the removal of a Yahoo discussion group and his email address.
This victory and the decisions against the company have given cheered him no end by he remains vigilant. “What Now for Stopecg?,” he writes on the site. “We remain, the job is not yet done, the ECG may appeal, and if they lose they can re-open in a years time, also, there are other copycat scams out there that are still bringing misery to thousands.”
Looks like a clear victory to us and a good example of Internet democracy in action. ®