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Written by rosalind renshaw

A falling-out between former friends and colleagues has resulted in one firm of estate agents being ordered to pay a competitor £15,000 in damages after admitting unfair tactics on the internet which involved porn.

Eddisonwhite, a south-west London firm, brought the case against SW19 and SW19’s proprietor, Luke Bennett. Bennett had bought the website domain eddisonwhite.com and diverted it to hardcore porn sites.

Eddisonwhite’s own website was eddisonwhite.co.uk, which it had registered in 2004. In December 2005, Bennett subsequently bought the same domain name but with .com

It was said that he continued with the website, despite a series of requests from eddisonwhite for removal.
 
Last June, the Chancery division of the High Court found that SW19 was guilty of passing off and copyright infringement, and made a series of orders, with costs to be assessed if not agreed.

The costs have now finally been agreed at £15,000.

Peter Adediran, the lawyer acting for eddisonwhite, said: “This is an important case for small businesses everywhere who are not sure where they stand in the areas of internet law. I’m extremely happy I was able to assist eddisonwhite in this and hope their victory will help all businesses protect themselves against such practice.”

Richard Eddison, joint owner of eddisonwhite, said: “I am relieved and happy this ordeal is over. It has been difficult for us and all of our customers and most importantly for those individuals who were subjected to some truly awful images thanks to Mr Bennett’s antics. 

“For a professional service business to act in this way is beyond contempt and does little to challenge any pre-conceived ideas members of the public may have about our profession. 

“We have sought to rise above that by running a truly professional business and offer excellent service to buyers and sellers alike. It’s just a shame Mr Bennett didn’t chose to operate with the same values.”

He added that the legal costs of mounting the case were unknown but that Bennett would have to pay both his own and eddisonwhite's costs. He said that the court had also ordered Bennett to hand over the .com domain.

He said that the existence of the .com site had been pointed out to them by a client: "He saw the pornography and subsequently became a witness for us. My advice to any firm caught in a similar situation is to take legal advice – and don't give up."

Bennett told EAT at the weekend that he had at one time been a flatmate and close friend of Simon White when the pair worked for another estate agency firm.

The pair fell out for entirely private reasons and both went on to set up their own estate agency firms. “I noticed that eddisonwhite were using the co.uk version of their website, so I bought the .com version and rather jokingly offered it to them,” Bennett said.

“They refused, and at first I diverted it to some soft porn websites. For a week, I diverted it to the estate agency where we used to work. Then, things got nastier and I upped the ante and diverted it to more serious porn sites.

“However, the whole thing has been blown out of all proportion. The public would never have found the .com site and the only people who knew about it were the handful involved in running the two firms. At first, they went after £100,000, so it is rather telling that the court was happy with £15,000. They tried to turn my foolish prank into a money-making exercise, but the case must have cost them an awful lot more than that.

“But what I did was silly. I shouldn’t have done it and I regret it.”

Comments

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    I've had dealings with both these estate agents and the solicitor representing Eddison White. They make a matching threesome that cause severe damage to your wallet and should be avoided at all costs

    (damages and costs pun, fully intended)

    • 15 May 2010 17:12 PM
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    I bet their customers weren't expecting THAT sort of semi!

    • 11 May 2010 17:18 PM
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    I am sure most of us have either pranked or been pranked, this one was quiet amusing, however its still wrong, the fine needs to be paid and the defendant's should hand it over to charity, they were stupid not to buy both domain's, lessons for all in this one.

    • 11 May 2010 15:28 PM
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    Giving agents a bad name do we really need that! Bet it cost the idiot a lot of money.

    • 10 May 2010 15:31 PM
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    very stupid thing to do however you would have thought any firm would take the precaution of buying both .com and .co.uk

    • 10 May 2010 14:30 PM
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    I don't think this porn thing is going to catch on.

    • 10 May 2010 14:15 PM
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    Which porn site?

    • 10 May 2010 13:59 PM
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    There is a lesson to be learnt here, if you are setting up a business, buy the .co.uk and .com, and if you can buy hyphenated versions of the domains too. It much cheaper than having someone else buy it and then having to buy it from them at highly inflated prices.

    • 10 May 2010 13:56 PM
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    my sentiments entirely Tim M.

    • 10 May 2010 13:24 PM
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    This post has been removed by site admin

    • 10 May 2010 11:50 AM
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    What an absolute idiot. People like this tarnish the reputation of many.

    • 10 May 2010 08:59 AM
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    If the .com was available, why didn't they buy it in the first place.

    • 10 May 2010 07:32 AM
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