Glasgow Businessman in Domain Name Fight with the Law Society of Scotland
20 November 2002, London, UK
Local Glasgow Businessman in Domain Name Fight with the Law Society of Scotland
Local Glasgow Businessman In Domain Name Fight With The Law Society Of Scotland - How Many Lawyers Does it Take to Get to Court?
Tommy Butler, a local businessman from Glasgow is being sued by the Law Society of Scotland over a website address he registered for a legal website. Unfortunately for Mr Butler, he asked over 100 Scottish lawyers to take his case, but all of them refused. The reason is not that his case is “hopeless”, it is because all Scottish lawyers have to be members of the Law Society of Scotland in order to practise, making them very reluctant to ‘sue their own’.
In the end, Mr Butler had to find an English law firm - governed by the separate Law Society of England and Wales - to take his case. His solicitor, Joanne Brook, of Sprecher Grier Halberstam LLP http://www.sghlaw.com said, “The fact that the case is being brought by the Law Society of Scotland should not mean that Mr Butler cannot get a lawyer to help him. It is poor that he has had to find lawyers in another country because Scottish lawyers felt they could not represent someone being sued by what is effectively their own trade union.” But such reluctance is not surprising when it appears that the Law Society of Scotland wrote to the Scottish lawyers previously acting for Mr Butler, telling them that they were not to comment on the case to the media.
The dispute concerns a domain name owned by Mr Butler (“lawscot.co.uk”), which the Law Society of Scotland mistakenly used in its advertising material instead of the domain name that it does own. Having failed to cajole Tommy Butler into selling the domain name, the embarrassed Law Society has decided to sue him on the basis that it believes it is the only business entitled to call itself “lawscot”. The Law Society has even gone as far as registering this name as a trademark to prevent anyone else from using it. Mr Butler now feels that 4 years of business have been wasted because even if he gets to keep the domain name, the Law Society of Scotland has effectively scuppered his chances of getting law firms to advertise on his website.
“The Law Society of Scotland is calling me a cybersquatter” Mr Butler railed. “It is not true; I registered the domain name for a legitimate legal portal so that people could find a recommended lawyer in Scotland. I did this a long before the Law Society got a trademark for it. It is irresponsible for the Law Society to advertise the wrong website and email address and then sue me because of their mistake.” Tommy Butler is also fuming that in the papers the Law Society of Scotland submitted to Court, it omitted any reference to an arrangement between him and the Law Society whereby they agreed to lease the name from him but then failed to pay his invoice.
It also seems that they neglected to mention that as a gesture of goodwill Mr Butler has been diligently forwarding mis-addressed emails to the Law Society for 18 months until they recently told him to stop doing so. His solicitor Joanne Brook said “We cannot know why they asked Tommy to stop doing this, but the reason could be that those emails contain confidential client information and this could cause further embarrassment to the Law Society.”
----Notes to editors----
This press release in available in PDF, plain text and Word formats. Photographs are available of the SGH Law and Weblaw teams.
The media spokesperson for is Simon Halberstam Partner and head of e-commerce law at Sprecher Grier Halberstam LLP & Weblaw.co.uk.
Jo Brook is a co-author of the book "Domain Names – A Practical Guide". It is the first book dedicated to legal, commercial and procedural issues relating to domain names and provides a clear guide to companies and their advisers who seek such information.
About the authors:
The authors are Simon Halberstam and Joanne Brook, partners in the e-commerce law department of leading City solicitors Sprecher Grier Halberstam LLP http://www.sghlaw.com and Weblaw http://www.weblaw.co.uk, and Jonathan D C Turner http://www.jonathanturner.com, a Barrister (WIPO Panellist and Nominet Independent Expert).
Additional contributions are from Paul Westley of Internetters (ICANN Accredited Registrar) and David Perrin (WJB Chiltern plc).
About the publication: Amazon.co.uk
About Sprecher Grier Halberstam LLP
Sprecher Grier Halberstam LLP & Weblaw deliver commercial legal advice and is a business based practice. Sprecher Grier Halberstam has established a reputation for providing fast and effective service to its business clients. The partners, each a specialist in his / her particular commercial field.
Weblaw.co.uk is the website of the IT & E-Commerce Law Group (the Weblaw Group) of the London based commercial law firm, Sprecher Grier Halberstam LLP.