PO-LO.COM JUMPS RALPH LAUREN HURDLE
NEW YORK — Polo Ralph Lauren has lost its legal battle with a British saddlery Web site over the domain name po-lo.com.
The statutory snit started after Keith Collingridge of Woldingham, England, registered the names po-lo.com.uk and po-lo.com last March as Web links to his wife’s Surrey saddlery business. In response, lawyers representing Ralph Lauren had demanded in a cease-and-desist order dated Oct. 25 that Collingridge remove those Web site registrations or face cybersquatter fines of up to $100,000, which could be imposed under U.S. law. Collingridge defended his actions by contending that polo is a traditional English sport that has long predated Polo Ralph Lauren. He hired his own lawyer, Prettys Solicitors, to defend his Web site registrations.
On Jan. 3, Collingridge received a letter from attorneys representing Ralph Lauren stating: “We have reviewed your Web site, which currently links to Polo.com as well as sites for ‘Polo-Volkswagen’ and ‘Polo Mints-Nestle.’ At this time, Polo has decided not to take any further action in connection with your registration of the subject domain name.” The message posted on the saddlery Web site’s landing pad above those links reads: “This is an Equestrian Web site. If you have arrived here by mistake, you may have been looking for one of the sites below, which also use the word Polo in their products and/or Web site name. (We are not related to the following organizations in any way.)”
An emboldened Collingridge issued a public statement exhorting others to follow his example: “If anyone else finds themselves in a similar situation, please don’t just hand over your domain name through unfounded threats and bullying,” he wrote. “As this dispute has found, it doesn’t make them right.” Collingridge’s counsel to resist corporate bullying was carried by the U.K. online newspaper The Register, after he’d e-mailed his statement to the publication’s U.S. correspondent.