TaxAdministrationHicks off the hook over website

Hicks off the hook over website

Two-partner accountancy firm Hicks & Co looks set to avoid any action being taken against it over the ownership of internet domain names similar to those of the Inland Revenue.

Link: Mystery as small firm’s website is top dog

Last week Accountancy Age reported that www.hicks.co.uk had become the top accountancy website, ahead of the Big Four firms and institutes, according to internet monitor Hitwise. This was largely due to the firm’s ownership of the domain names inlandrevenue.co.uk and inlandrevenue.com, which redirects surfers to the Hicks & Co web site.

The site does however contain a link to the Inland Revenue for those visiting by accident.

Despite the intention to use the Revenue’s name to draw visitors to the Hicks site, a Revenue spokesman said it is not taking any action to reclaim the names for itself, but was aware of the Hicks site. According to internet lawyer Simon Halberstam of Sprecher Grier Halberstam, this stance is not surprising.

‘On the surface it looks like the Revenue has a strong case, but when you look deeper, the normal elements don’t apply,’ said Halberstam.

Arguments often used to reclaim domain names include the protection of a trademark, a loss of revenue and damage the reputation of the company.

And according to Halberstam these arguments would not apply.

He said that there is no Inland Revenue trademark, Hicks cannot be taking away tax revenue from the body and it can still operate with its own.gov.uk address.

‘Hicks & Co are playing a clever game, the Revenue would have a lot of trouble taking these names back,’ said Halberstam. Hicks & Co was unavailable for comment.

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