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Gillingham FC wins legal battle over web address


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Gillingham FC have won their battle with a lifelong fan who registered the internet address gillinghamfc.co.uk.

Alan Liptrott has been ordered to transfer ownership of the domain name, which he bought in 1999, to the club.

The club had complained Mr Liptrott was using the disputed domain name as a way of luring fans searching for Gillingham FC into visiting his own site.

Mr Liptrott, a fan of the club since the 1960s who has acted as chairman of the Supporters Club, claimed that he bought the domain name in 1999 at which time he had a good relationship with chairman Paul Scally.

He said that he offered him the domain name and other supporters’ services to set up a website for the club, but Mr Scally was not interested, and that relations between him and the club subsequently soured.

Nominet, which solves disputes about web addresses, ruled that Mr Liptrott, who lives in Folkestone, had made an "abusive registration".

Richard Stephens, from Nominet, said in his judgement it was "hard to escape the conclusion" that the main reason for the domain name was "to capture the attention of those searching for the complainant or its football team and then direct them to a separate website not authorised in any way by the complainant".

He said that the club feared that Mr Liptrott would be "able to air his grievances" about the club on a site which has "the air of being the official website", and that casual web surfers would not realise the truth.

Gills chairman Paul Scally said it was "quite obvious" the address should only have been used by the club.

He said: "It is disappointing that, despite our best efforts over the years, Mr Liptrott refused to accept our argument and we had to spend time and money taking the matter to the dispute resolution service.

"We asked Mr Litrott to stop using the domain name, but he refused to do so and to pass it to the club, despite being offered many opportunities to do so.

"This was particularly disappointing for a person who publicly professes to have the club’s best interest at heart."

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