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Whizz-kid takes Apple to court over Website

A young Internet entrepreneur from London is launching a legal battle against Apple Computer to try to overturn a ruling on the ownership of a Website address.

Benjamin Cohen, 22, is applying to the high court for a judicial review of his dispute with Apple over the address Mr Cohen registered the name in November 2000. He says he bought it after failing to register, which he wanted to use to redirect Internet users to his site, CyberBritain.

Mr Cohen says Apple's lawyers, Chicago-based Baker & McKenzie, contacted him on November 5 and demanded he surrender the name. Letters were exchanged and at one point, he says, they offered him $5,000 (£2,680) for the address. Negotiations collapsed when he insisted it was worth at least £50,000.

"That's quite a miserly amount really," said Mr Cohen, who now uses the address to forward visitors to his online shopping venture,

"As soon as we said that [we wanted £50,000], that was it," Mr Cohen said. "Their lawyers broke off communication."

The dispute was referred last year to Nominet, the registry for UK Internet names.

This month Nominet declared the disputed name should be handed over to Apple. But Mr Cohen is determined to fight on. A former millionaire, he set up the community website when he was 15, but was forced to scale back his operations after the dotcom crash.

He said he was asking the high court for a judicial review because "we feel that the procedure that Nominet utilise to settle disputes is unfair and biased towards big business at the expense of legitimate small British companies". Mr Cohen said he would apply to the high court today or tomorrow.

"It's a matter of principle now. I paid for it [the domain name] and if Apple had contacted me nicely without lawyers we would have sold it to them."

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