A Yorkshire man who created a fan website for Aldi has been forced to hand the domain name over to the discount chain.
Web developer Wayne Stephenson set up ilovealdi.co.uk to highlight the store's prices and offer price comparisons. The site also hosted a forum on which visitors could discuss recipes and products.
But in December, Mr Stephenson was shocked to receive a 12-page letter from Aldi demanding that he shut down the site.
"The letter said there would be serious repercussions unless I took the site down," he tells the Gazette Live.
"I could understand it if I had registered ihatealdi.co.uk, but I genuinely love shopping at Aldi and wasn't looking to make money from it, there weren't even any adverts."
Disappointed, but worried about a legal battle, Mr Stephenson took the site down - only to receive another letter ordering him to hand over the domain name.
"I registered the domain name because I genuinely love shopping at Aldi. Its purpose is to let fellow Aldi lovers make reviews about Aldi products," Mr Stephenson told regulator Nominet.
"This is in no way an abusive registration. In fact quite the opposite."
However, Nominet ruled that he should hand over the domain name, as he had probably been seeking to take advantage of Aldi's reputation in order to make a profit. It added that the name of the site could also confuse customers into thinking that it was run by the store itself.
"It seems... likely that the respondent's primary motivation for registering the domain name was simply to profit from the complainant's rights for his own financial gain (by setting up a commercial website that offers identical or similar services to those offered by the complainant – ie, an online supermarket," ruled Nominet's David Taylor.
He added: "The expert is of the opinion that the fact that the website associated with the domain name prominently displayed the complainant's trade mark and was being used for an online supermarket, would have most likely misled internet users into thinking that the respondent's website was operated or authorised by the complainant."
The decision may seem harsh, but companies are increasingly concerned about third parties setting up websites related to their trademarks - so-called cyber squatting. Cyber squatters may use their domain names to piggyback on a company's success, or simply try to sell it on to them.
A year ago, more than 1,000 new top-level domains were created, meaning many more opportunities for the unscrupulous. This time last year, tesco.co, asda.org, sainsburys.info and morrisons.org were all found to be under a third party's control.
Ilovealdi.co.uk remains closed.
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