Anti-scam website pressured by scammer

Date 8-Aug-2003 23:10:03
Topic: Internet News


A website set up to advise small businesses about how not to get caught up in a European directory scam has come under increasing pressure from the company it exposes, European City Guide.

StopECG.org has received lawyers' letters from St Louis in the US insisting its domain name infringes the European City Guide's ECG trademark and that unless it hands over the domain an injunction will be sought to seize the URL.

European City Guide doesn't actually own the ECG trademark - though it has just applied for one - but the threat of legal action has been enough to worry site owner Jules Woodell. He is a former victim of the company - which has in the past fallen foul of the UK's Office of Fair Trading - and a man who knows better than most the company's aggressive tactics.

Legal threat
That the letter stems from St Louis is interesting in that the European City Guide and its assorted other businesses that run the same scam are based and act solely in Europe. The company is largely grounded in Spain but its financial base is, perhaps inevitably, in Switzerland.

Whether St Louis has a different interpretation to the rest of the US and the world of how trademarks can be applied to websites, we do not know. But even with an injunction, Mr Woodell is not obliged to do anything since he is based in the UK, as is his ISP. The StopECG.org site details the scam, lists the various regulatory body decisions made against European City Guide and provides useful advice to companies caught out.

European City Guide and its other sister companies make their money by sending out forms to small businesses which offer what appears to be a free directory service. It is only once the form is filled in and returned and the details entered on their limited site that an unexpected invoice is sent out, Mr Woodell says.

In his case, he was informed he had to pay 500 for his inclusion on the directory. A review of the small print also reveals that the contract is for three years and will be automatically renewed unless the company is informed in writing.

Read more of the article on TheRegister.



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