RealTime IT News

Chase Manhattan Bank Fighting Domain Owner

Chase Manhattan Bank has been putting the sqeeze on a small UK company called Chase House.

The larger corporation has put so much legal pressure on the smaller company that they are being forced to sell their domain--and Friday of this week they will be having a mock funeral outside the U.K. offices of Chase Manhattan--and they will all be taking off their shirts as a gesture to the bank, which has requested that they turn over any "material" with the words "Chase" written on it.

Chase House was founded in 1993 as a management consultancy practice. As e-mail became more important in their practice, the company purchased the domain chase.co.uk for both email and a future web site. In November of 1997, Chase House received the first inquiry from Chase Manhattan about the use of the Chase name from P. C. Kirschenbaum, a vice president of Chase Manhattan Bank. Chase House CEO Richard Parker responded on headed stationery and even mentioned the chase.co.uk web site, but no reply was ever received.

Fast forward to August of 1998. Chase House--then called Chase Court--received a letter from Chase Manhattan's new lawyers, Field Fisher Waterhouse, demanding that they hand over both the domain name and all other "Chase" material--and pay costs and damages. Chase House at that point hired IP Rights solicitor Willoughby & Partners to fight their case.

In January, Chase Manhattan issued a claim in the High Court. Willoughby & Partners issued a response which caused Field Fisher Waterhouse to decide against the "simple advocacy route" to resolution. Chase House at this point could not afford the time and money required to fight a protracted legal battle, and had no choice but to negotiate a settlement.

Is this another case of the big guys using their power to take from the little guys? Chase House thinks so, and they're having a mock funeral in front of the Chase Manhattan Bank in London this Friday as a protest. They'll literally be taking the shirts off their backs--as Chase Manhattan has requested, and handing them over to Chase authorities. They're also encouraging folks to sign their condolences book so they can show Chase Manhattan Bank just how folks feel.