Ruling fails to set address precedent

One of the first judgments to tackle a dispute over the registering of Internet domain names has failed to set a precedent, according to a lawyer involved in the case.

In the High Court last month, the Vice-Chancellor Sir Richard Scott refused to grant an injunction to prevent Pitman Publishing using the name "".

A second company, Pitman Training, which used to be in the same group as Pitman Publishing, applied for the injunction on the grounds that its rival had no right to use the name Pitman in its address.

Although Pitman Publishing registered "" first, the name was accidentally transferred to a franchisee of Pitman Training when it registered the same name with the Internet's naming committee. When the mistake was realised, the domain name was transferred back to Pitman Publishing.

Scott ruled that, as both companies had a legitimate right to use the name Pitman, the injunction could not be justified.

Dawn Osborne, of Willoughby and Partners, which represented Pitman Publishing, said the judgment had not clarified the current debate over whether or not there was a "first come, first served" rule for Internet addresses.

She said: "The ruling does not mean that a passing off claim will never succeed against someone who has registered first, if that person does not have a legitimate right to use of the name."