June 14, 2000
A federal court judge
has released her reasons for throwing out a motion by the corporate owners
of popular website Toronto.com who were seeking an injunction to stop two
men from using a similar address. The joint owners of Toronto.com - Torstar
Corp., publishers of The Toronto Star; Bell Actimedia, a subsidiary of
Bell Canada; and City Search Inc., an arm of a California company that
operates search directory Web sites across the United States - claim that
Ritchie Sinclair and Garth Cole of Friendship Enterprises, operators of
Toronto2.com, were causing irreparable harm by attempting to confuse the
public into thinking that both sites were the same.
However, Madame Justice
Elizabeth Heneghan of the Federal Court of Justice, rejected their arguments.
"I am unable to locate in the materials any clear evidence, which is not
speculative in nature, that demonstrates the plaintiff will suffer irreparable
harm,"said Judge Heneghan, who reserved her reasons until last week on
a decision she reached earlier this year.
"Basically, the judge
said the plaintiffs came to court without an ounce of evidence. It's a
huge victory for David against Goliath," said Zak Muscovitch of Neinstein
and Associates, lawyer for Friendship Enterprises. "They've known they
were right all along, but the plaintiff forced them on to trial and there's
no question it's taken a huge toll on their finances and their business,"
The decision hasn't
deterred Toronto.com from going forward with a lawsuit to permanently shut
down Toronto2.com and collect $500,000 in damages. A pre-trial conference
is scheduled for the end of this month.
[ seeking a halt of use while a case is before the courts ] are tough to
get at best. We recognized that when we went in," said George Jewell, general
manager of Toronto.com. "We're going to continue to do what we have to
do, which is to absolutely protect the brand and the time and money we
spent to build the brand." Mr. Jewell maintains the Toronto2.com is a similar
Web site that causes confusion to users and advertisers.
Mr. Muscovitch says
the plaintiffs are unfairly trying to protect a "generic domain name that
is essentially the name of the city." Toronto.com offers news from the
Star and information from clubs, bars, retailers and community groups.
Toronto2.com supplies e-mail and Web page construction services.