Dell sues Dell over Web hosting site

A Web designer called Paul Dell says the American computer manufacturer is taking him to court because he created dellwebsites.com

Paul Dell, a Web site designer based in Minorca, claimed on Tuesday that he is being sued in France by US computer manufacturer Dell.

Mr Dell told ZDNet UK that Dell is suing him because he launched a Web design site in April 2001 called dellwebsites.com.

According to Mr Dell, the computer manufacturer accuses him of "trademark infringement, unfair competition and acts of parasitism, to the detriment of the American company Dell," which itself used to run a site called Dellhost, a hosting services company aimed at SMEs.

However, Dell the computer manufacturer was unable to confirm whether it was taking Mr Dell to court.

"I'm afraid we can't comment on this, as Dell does not comment on unsubstantiated rumours," Dell UK explained. "We are currently looking into it, and can't tell you at the moment if a case is going ahead," she added.

Mr Dell, though, insists that he faces a massive claim for damages.

"Dell is suing me for €100,000 in damages to Dell America, €50,000 to Dell France and ordering me to pay each Dell Company €40,000 and €500 for every presence of the word Dell on my site," said Paul Dell, on his Web site.

According to Mr Dell, the computer manufacturer argues that he launched dellweb sites.com in an attempt to compete with Dellhost. "So from what I can gather, they think I was the downfall of this sideline of Dell," he said.

Dellhost was sold to managed services provider Vericenter in late 2003, and now trades under the name "AppSite Hosting".

Paul Dell said that under French intellectual property law he is entitled to register his company under his surname, even if another company is registered with that name, so long as the registration was made in good faith. He claimed he was acting in good faith when he registered his surname as his domain name. "Dell does not build Web sites, I don't manufacture computers," he said.

The body that normally deals with domain name arbitration is the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Paul Dell claims Dell is taking him to court in France over copyright infringement, and not domain name issues.

"[Dell] sent me cease-and-decease letters on 5 April, 2002, and then on 24 November, 2004. I replied to them stating that my name is Dell and I create Web sites and I hoped that would be the end of the matter," Paul Dell told ZDNet UK.

Paul Dell claims he was due to appear before the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris on Monday, but that he asked for the case to be put back so he could "hopefully get some funds together" to engage a French intellectual-property lawyer.

"I am shocked and appalled by their behaviour to say the least, and so are my family and friends," Paul Dell said.

Paul Dell has launched an appeal for funds on his Web site, The Register reported on Monday.

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