The Scottish father who owns the narnia.mobi domain name disputed by the CS Lewis estate has claimed that he isn’t making any money from it and has insisted that the domain name was a present for his 11-year-old son despite the fact that he owns 78 domain names.
The CS Lewis estate’s lawyers Baker & McKenzie and the dad Richard Saville-Smith, a chartered accountant from Edinburgh, have come in for a lot of criticism from readers since the story was first revealed on TheLawyer.com.
“The 78 domain names are mostly about an [internet] poetry business,” he said. “The advice we had was that we needed to buy them.”
Saville-Smith has appointed Alistair Payne, head of IP at Dublin-based Matheson Ormsby Prentice, to fight his corner.
Saville-Smith, who bought the narnia.mobi domain name in 2006, has told TheLawyer.com that he and his wife Gillian Ferguson are not earning any money out of the domain, despite it being held on a site that generates advertising revenue.
“We bought it through a company that has become part of Sedo. They put up a holding page and dumped some advertising on it.”
“We don’t make a bean out of it,” he added.
The domain is held pending future active use, by the domain name seller Sedo. The narnia.mobi web page contains Narnia-related “click-through” advertising, a fact which the couple’s lawyer labelled an “unfortunate circumstance.”
Asked why the domain that was intended to be a birthday present is being held, the father said: “The first Narnia film was out and had been and gone, as a kid everything goes in waves. We thought ‘What’s the point of giving it to him in between films?’ We thought we’d do it to coincide with the second film.”
The first Chronicles of Narnia film, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, was released in the UK in 2005. The second film Prince Caspian is due to be released here next week, one month after his son’s birthday.
Payne told The Lawyer that he was driven by principle, rather than desire for publicity, in offering to work pro bono in the couple’s defence: “There’s a point of principle here, I don’t see any evidence to point to unfair commercial use. These people are entitled to representation as much as the trademark owner is.”
“IP law must find a balance between situations of cyber-squatting and situations of free speech,” he added.
Payne said he didn’t believe there to be any evidence of “bad faith” on the part of the couple – the basis of the claim by Baker & McKenzie’s client CS Lewis Company: “They had nothing whatsoever to do with the adverts on the place-keeper site. They have attempted to have the adverts removed and were surprised to see them there.”