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Lighten Up 9 November 2001 Edition
Previous Edition

Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
Click To See
Come on folks, I'm having to start recycling old suggestions now. Surely the Web can't have run out of new funny stuff?

Japanese Engrish
Worth a second look -- and based on the current "Engrish of the Week" example, is it any wonder that the Japanese suicide rate is so high?


Telecom Still Sees Red Over Yellow
Regular readers will recall that Net entrepreneur Henk Kloss was well and truly whacked by Telecom a couple of years back for his use of the colour yellow in conjunction with an online directory.

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Well it seems the fight has flared up again.

Kloss is still trying to have his trademark registration finalised for the name "Yellow Web" -- a process he started back in 1998. Although the registration was apparently approved by the Commissioner in January 1999, Telecom objected and it has taken almost two years to get close to a decision.

However, Henk now claims that Telecom has resorted to some skulduggery in an attempt to defeat his application.

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He alleges that a Yellow Pages employee contacted Netherlands-resident Kees Kamper, the registered owner of the domain name, representing himself to be an employee of Domainz in order to gain "confidential" information.

In the conversation that followed, the Yellow Pages employee managed to uncover the fact that Mr Kamper is related to Henk.

Subsequently, Telecom has now filed an affirmation which alleges that Henk is still involved in the operation of the business and which states that they have an "intention to institute proceedings against Mr Kloss AND the current domain name holder for the YELLOW WEB".

Given that the current domain name holder and, according to Henk, the operator of the Yellow Web site, lives in Amsterdam, the whole issue of "the borderless Internet" arises once again.

Now, I'm no lawyer but I suspect that Telecom are going to prevail in this case -- and perhaps not without reasonable cause, at least from a legal perspective.

The Yellow Web site is using the words "Yellow Pages" and does appear to be acting as an online directory.

However, if it is solely owned and operated by a foreign resident then one would have to question whether Telecom has a right to enforce its trademarks across international boundaries. After all, even though the site has a .nz domain name and is hosted here, there's nothing that says it is specifically targeting an NZ audience.

If it is an "international" business then would the courts rule that people accessing it from New Zealand must not see the words "yellow pages" -- or the color yellow even?

Of course Henk could have boxed a whole lot cleverer than he has.

For a start -- it would make Telecom's life much harder, in fact it could make a world of difference, if the site was hosted off-shore rather than here in NZ. It would also help if the "sample" listing didn't use a company with an NZ address and if it dropped the use of the term "Yellow Pages".

You also have to wonder exactly why Telecom view this tiny, virtually empty website as a threat. The trademark infringement issue is tenuous and could be ignored without any real jeopardy to the integrity of those trademarks.

Could it be that Yellow Pages sees this "business card" idea as something worth pursuing themselves and therefore maybe they're trying to clear the market before launching a similar extension to their own offering?

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