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WIPO rules on PoWergen.tv

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Powergen has won a domain name dispute against a critic who has become a thorn in its side since he highlighted a serious breach in consumer security at the utility more than three years ago. A WIPO panel has decided to transfer ownership of the domain PoWergen.tv from John Chamberlain to the utility. Chamberlain told El Reg he had no plans to appeal the decision. "Looks like I've lost my domain name powergen.tv," he conceded.

According to according to Powergen's original January complaint to ICANN, PoWergen.tv was "registered in bad faith" and originally (for a time in October 2003) contained content critical of the utility. Earlier this year Chamberlain turned the site over to mountain biking. This content has been moved onto another site and a redirection from PoWergen.tv is in place which will doubtless be curtailed when Powergen gets hold of the site at the start of next month.

Chamberlain previously ran a site called www.powergensucks.com and www.powergen.me.uk. Chamberlain transferred ownership of the domain powergen.me.uk to Powergen after reaching a settlement with the utility after Powergen complained to Nominet but before a hearing had taken place in the case. Powergensucks.com is also an ex-parrot.

Acrimonious history

The bad feeling between Powergen and Chamberlain began after he found a serious security hole on its site back in July 2000. Rather than thanking him for pointing out that customers' financial details were easily obtainable through simple URL manipulation, Powergen at first denied anything was wrong.

But after Silicon.com was able to prove the security breach via credit card information turned over to it by Chamberlain, Powergen upped the ante by threatening to obtain an injunction against Silicon.com and by branding Chamberlain as a "hacker".

Chamberlain is highly critical of Powergen's initial denials as well as its subsequent aggressive stance. "My complaint wasn't handled properly from the start," he said

Fast forward almost four years and Chamberlain is fighting a breach of confidence suit from Powergen, prompted by the acrimonious fall-out from the security breach and its subsequent media coverage.

A hearing of this civil lawsuit, which arises out of an accusation that Chamberlain failed to keep a promise to destroy customer data obtained from Powergen's site, began at Birmingham's Chancery Court on 8 March and ran until 12 March.

The court heard legal arguments but "unfortunately there wasn't enough time to complete the trial", Chamberlain told El Reg. The case has been adjourned until 16 June. Without any legal aid, Leicester-based former IT consultant Chamberlain has been forced to conduct his own legal defence in the case. ®

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