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Pole Dancing Company Must Pay for Employee’s Stupidity

Rivalry in business is in the public interest, but can go too far, as one pole dancing accessory company found out to its cost after an employee unwisely registered a tranche of Internet domain names which breached the rights of a competitor.

Company A marketed a device used by pole dancers. Company B sold a similar product. An employee of company A registered 12 web domains which featured the name of company B’s product and its trading style. The High Court found that the employee’s conduct amounted to unlawful passing off and that, by registering the domains, he had created ‘instruments of fraud’.

He had acted without the knowledge of company A’s majority shareholder, who had described what he did as ‘really stupid’. However, he had registered the domains in furtherance of his role as an employee and had done so for company A’s benefit. The employee and company A were thus held jointly liable for the former’s acts of passing off. The ruling opened the way for company B to seek an injunction and compensation for any damage caused to its business.