Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2000/11/21/bt_sacks_domain_grab_contractor/

BT sacks domain grab contractor

Reach for the VC stars

By Tim Richardson

Posted in Media, 21st November 2000 09:19 GMT

BT is to launch a technology incubator business that will exploit the thousands of ideas its boffins come up with at the company's labs in Suffolk.

BrightStar is set to be launched officially at the end of the month and is based at BT's Advanced Communications Technology Centre in Martlesham.

It is already incubating 13 companies and it's already hoped three will be spun out by March next year. In the future, BT plans to incubate up to 15 new companies a year using finance from outside the company. It's hoped each could be worth around £100 million within three years.

Unfortunately for BT, the people at BrightStar and BT's labs aren't as bright as they make out. Last year, BT's Labs at Martlesham received a full makeover and re-named Adastral Park.

The science and technology hothouse is built on land that was once part of RAF Martlesham Heath. The RAF's motto is Per ardua ad astra (through adversity to the stars) - hence Adastral Park.

Except, when the rebranding exercise was completed, someone forgot to register the domain. Check out adastralpark.com, adastralpark.co.uk or adastralpark.net and instead of finding your way to the brain of BT, you hit upon an adult dating agency for people of "all persuasions".

The site was set up by Ric Hayman, a BT contractor at the time, who registered the domains the day after Adastral Park received its new name and livery.

He told Reg: "I only bought it because it was there. You wouldn't walk by £20 note on the floor and not pick it up, would you?"

He denies cybersquatting because at the time, there was no trademark to infringe. But that didn't stop him from being sacked from his job as a contractor. Nor did it stop BT's lawyers from threatening legal action.

Hayman claims he was offered a little sweetener if he handed over the domains. He declined, and asked for £2 million instead. BT refused. According to Hayman, he even registered the company name Adastral Park Ltd before BT managed to file for the trademark.

The point of this little yarn? Well, there is none really. It's just amusing, that's all - a ringing endorsement of BT's on-the-ball management style. ®