The battle surrounding the ownership of popular Internet domain names is to continue in the Court of Appeal, reports Roger Pearson.

The battle over rights to use Internet domain names continues.

An appeal hearing is scheduled for 30 June in a challenge by One in a Million of Leeds, Richard Conway of Finchley and Julian Nicholson of New Malden, against High Court summary judgments granted against them last November.

Proceedings were launched by BT and Cellnet, Ladbrokes, J Sainsbury, Virgin and Marks & Spencer in respect of the use and registration of domain names.

These parties were awarded summary judgment by Deputy Judge Jonathan Sumption QC.

Conway, Nicholson and One in a Million were ordered to assign their interest in various domain name registrations to the plaintiffs. They were also ordered to pay costs of £65,000.

But now their case has been taken on by Finers on a pro bono basis with Alastair Wilson QC and Michael Hicks agreeing to act in the pending appeal.

Head of intellectual property at Finers, Mark Elmslie, says the case is one of major importance for Internet users. He says Conway, Nicholson and One in a Million have been branded as "Internet pirates" and stresses that in his view the legal issue of registration of domain names is far from settled.

As far as this case is concerned, he says, the summary judgment and the order made were based on the threat of passing off and trade mark infringement.

"We believe there are good grounds to challenge the High Court decision, given that it was made on an application for summary judgment, without the court having the benefit of oral evidence," says Elmslie.

When the case reaches the Appeal Court it is hoped that future guidelines will be given.

Although it is not party to the action, Nominet, the registry for Internet domain names, represented by Manches & co, has approached the Appeal Court, asking if it can be heard when the case comes to court.

A spokesman said: "We are neutral but for the good of the Internet community we would like to be heard because we want the issues to be aired as fully as possible. We hope this case will clear the air on a number of important issues."