Baker & McKenzie vs 11-year old in Narnia IP row

A couple from Edinburgh being threatened with a law suit by Baker & McKenzie over their son’s 11th birthday present has received offers of Pro Bono advice from three law firms, The Lawyer can reveal.

Baker & McKenzie vs 11-year old in Narnia IP rowA couple from Edinburgh is being threatened with a law suit by Baker & McKenzie over their son’s 11th birthday present.

Gillian Ferguson and Richard Saville-Smith bought the email domain name in 2006, so that their son, an avid fan of the Chronicles of Narnia books by author CS Lewis, might receive emails at that address direct to his mobile phone.

Richard Saville-Smith said that a firm from England, Ireland and Scotland respectively have offered to assist the Scottish family pro bono, but that while he was grateful for the offers, he was confident that he and his wife could take on Bakers alone.

“Once you get over the initial shock of the complexity of the rules and the number of pages, WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) rules are fairly clear – the burden of faith is on the them. We’re not being intimidated by the world’s leading law firm.”

Saville-Smith would not name the three firms in question.

However he added that the 128-page legal complaint, prepared by the New York-based partner Lisa W. Rosaya was “not very clever.” He said: “They’re throwing jargon around.”

But Baker & McKenzie, representing the CS Lewis Company, owner of the Narnia author’s estate, claims that the couple acted in “bad faith”.

According to Saville-Smith, the document issued to the couple claims that “the domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith”, and “ domain is being used for the Respondent’s commercial gain”. The father denied that he, his wife or son stand to gain commercially from ownership of the domain name.

Saville-Smith pointed out that the CS Lewis Company failed to take advantage of a sunrise period in which to buy up the dot mobi domain name.

“Bakers issued a client alert in 2006 about the dot mobi domain names. They had a three-month period to buy it and they screwed up. If they do take my son’s domain name away we’ll go through this all again.”

Baker & McKenzie declined to comment.