UK publisher Haymarket is suing oil firm Burmah Castrol for alleged infringement of its online intellectual property rights.
Haymarket is objecting to links on Castrol's Web site which 'frame' content from two of its sites, whatcar.com and autosport.com, within a Castrol-branded border.
Permission to do this had not being obtained from Haymarket, and the publisher is claiming breach of copyright, as well as the alleging 'passing off' by the oil company of its work. The publisher argues that Castrol has framed the Web sites in such a way as to suggest to Internet users that the Haymarket sites are published by or associated with Castrol.
Bill Murray, Managing Director of Haymarket Interactive, said: "We are delighted for third parties to add value to their sites by using our branded content - assuming, of course, that the right commercial arrangements are put in place. But if infringements like this go unchecked, and any company or individual can use someone else's content without that person's permission, the value of Internet businesses will shrink."
Dai Davis, an IT lawyer with Nabarro Nathanson, said: "It will be an uphill struggle to prove passing off of Internet content, for one thing a user goes to a specific Web site to access content. A lot will depend of a judge's initial view.
"However the copyright case is much more straightforward - either the material has been copied or not." ®