Belgium-based Lernout & Hauspie (L&H), a speech recognition and translation software developer, has brought a lawsuit in a US district court against former employee Marc Bautil for allegedly stealing a domain name.
L&H found out, to its surprise, that the iTranslator.com web site was owned by Bautil only when the company attempted to make improvements to the web site. L&H claims that Bautil registered the domain name in April 1998 after he started working at the company. It is claimed that, on discovery of the problem, Bautil wrote to L&H saying, "I'd be happy to sell you the domain name, make me an offer." Bautil launched his own, California-based, internet translation service after he stopped working for L&H in 1999 and, it is claimed, has redirected internet traffic from L&H's iTranslator site to this new company. L&H claims that this site "leads L&H customers and prospective customers into believing that the services and links provided on [Butil's] web site are sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with, L&H." L&H, which recently filed for bankruptcy, has faced other troubles within the ranks when its co-founders and a former board member were charged with fraud and stock manipulation.
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