Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

EasyJet wins the domain name easyRealestate.co.uk

Out-Law News | 17 Apr 2001 | 12:00 am | 1 min. read

EasyJet has won a court case against an individual ordering him to transfer the domain name easyRealestate.co.uk to easyJet and requiring him to stop representing himself off as being connected with the budget airline’s group of companies.

Dainty said he intended to establish a cut-price estate agency. However, his site “bore a strikingly similar appearance in the colours chosen and the design get-up to that of easyJet.” The judge described easyJet’s get-up as portraying four distinctive features:

  • The name “easy” together with another word that alluded to the service being offered;
  • The word “easy” was always in lower case;
  • The first letter of the second word was always a capital letter; and
  • The get-up was generally in plain white lettering against a bright orange background.

EasyJet argued that Dainty’s site suggested an association with it. Dainty, representing himself in court, argued that the airline could not have exclusive use of the generic word “easy,” that easyJet did not operate a property business and that he did not intend to take advantage of the airline’s goodwill.

However, the court said there was a likelihood of deception because of the four elements of easyJet’s get-up. The judge ruled that, while the name alone did not amount to “passing off,” the get-up in total was used for passing off.

EasyJet lost a case it brought for the domain name easy-jet.com because the owner of that name argued that he planned to use the name for a site selling ink jet cartridges. The site was not created at the time of the hearing, so arguments over get-up could not be made.

Reported court cases on domain name disputes are relatively rare. More common are reports of decisions by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), an international tribunal that offers comparatively cheap and fast dispute resolution services. However, WIPO cannot hear disputes over .co.uk domain names, making it an unsuitable forum for this case.