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Near-namesake Web sites queried by Scottish court

A Scottish court has ruled that similarly named Web sites may constitute passing-off when they are used for similar purposes.

Glasgow businessman Alan Brooks had used the domain name menu.co.uk in a Web-based guide - "One man's Steak is another man's Burger" - to restaurants in Scotland and northern England.

In early February, he noted another similarly intentioned Web site under construction - "sometimes it's good to see the menu before you book" - at menus.co.uk.

The latter site now has a home page message stating: "This site has absolutely no connection with any other site or with www.menu.co.uk Unfortunately, a legal dispute has arisen between the owners of this site and that of www.menu.co.uk. As a mark of good faith, we have suspended this site for 72 hours in order that a speedy resolution of our dispute can take place and call on the owners of www.menu.co.uk to do likewise."

Brooks won an injunction from the Glasgow Sheriff Court preventing further use of the name www.menus.co.uk as Brooks' site could lose trade in Glasgow.

David Flint, partner in the IP & technology law group of the Glasgow-based MacRoberts firm of solicitors said: "This is one of the first Scottish cases to deal with the Internet. Whilst it is different from a number of other cases, what is important is that it indicates that, in appropriate cases, the Courts will be prepared to grant interim remedies to a party whose rights are being affected by online activity."