Q: We have tried to register a web address in the name of our company,
but have found it is already taken. However, the individual is not using
it and has subsequently offered to sell it to us. What can we do?
A: It depends on what sort of claim the other party can show. They may
be trying to make money or may not have managed to develop the site and
are looking to recoup their expenses.
If a large sum has been mentioned a court would most likely view this as
a cyber-squatting case, in which case you could threaten litigation.
There is a favourable precedent from 1997, when two individuals tried to
extort amounts of up to pounds 25,000 from household brand names such as
Burger King, BT and Marks & Spencer. They were forced by a judge to
surrender their claims to the domain names.
For help with a '.co.uk' name you can approach Nominet, the UK national
domain names register, which has a free advisory service
It has no powers in this regard, but can often persuade cyber-squatters
to voluntarily give up the name.
If you need someone to help identify the owner of the name and determine
their intentions, Carratu carries out investigation services for pounds
If it subsequently manages to procure the name it charges pounds 1000
plus the fee payable to the individual. Call 020 8643 8000;
With '.com' and '.org' names, get in touch with the World Intellectual
Property Organisation (WIPO). This has an arbitration and mediation
centre that will decide whether the registration is legitimate or
This body does have authority to act: in the past 18 months it has
resolved 1000 cases, deciding on a transfer to the plaintiff in eight
out of ten cases. You will need to establish your claim. For instance,
it decided in favour of Madonna but against Sting, whose name it said
was a generic word that anyone was entitled to.
The service costs dollars 1500 (pounds 1060) plus legal expenses. Thee
web site is http://arbiter.wipo.int/domains/
Q: We are planning a radio ad but don't want to waste our money. Is
there a company that can provide basic information about which
commercial stations give the best results?
A: Commercial radio is represented by the Radio Advertising Bureau
(RAB), which offers free advice to advertisers. It can tell you whether
your idea has been done before and help with campaign strategy.
Its web site has nearly 200 case studies that provides tips about what
other companies are doing on radio, and how well the medium is working
These include examples from big corporations such as Barclays, Tesco and
BT, drinks brands Jack Daniels and Famous Grouse, and new product
launches by Cadbury and Kellogg. Radio campaigns by internet sites such
as Lastminute, eBookers and SharePeople are also described.
The site contains full listings of commercial radio stations with
contact details and location maps. It also offers presentations on radio
strategies, guidelines for specific sectors, such as e-commerce and
FMCG, and background about the development of radio as an advertising
Call 020 7306 2500; www.rab.co.uk. The direct line for consultancy is
020 7306 2583; look on the site under 'information' for contact details
of other departments.
Let it snow
Q: Is there a company that can supply real snow for an outdoor
A: Snow can be manufactured from liquid nitrogen, and works quite well,
although it is expensive. Creative Leisure Associates quotes about
pounds 5000 for ten tons, which it says is probably the minimum you need
for most purposes.
UPS used snow for an outdoor attraction in Covent Garden aimed at
drawing attention to its sponsorship of the last Winter Olympics. The
National Maritime Museum in Greenwich recently used snow when it staged
an exhibition about south polar exploration, as does The Daily Mail for
its annual Ski & Snowboard Show.
If you only need it for decorative purposes a cheaper alternative is
fake snow, which works out at about pounds 1000-pounds 2000. Call 0121
236 0690; www.creativeleisure.co.uk
E-mail enquiries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.