Easyart.com is to face easyGroup in the High Court next year to rebut allegations that it is profiting from the 'easy' name.
EasyGroup, run by Stelios Haji-Ioannou, has a long history of trying to protect the "easy" prefix maintaining that this is part of the company's trademark.
However, in a fight of David and Goliath proportions, Easyart.com has decided to make a stand and refused to hand over the domain.
Last year, print site Easyart.com received a letter from Easy Group's lawyers warning that it was guilty of "passing off" on easy Group's good name. Lawyers demanded Easyart.com hand over the domain or face the courts.
Two months ago Easyart.com boss, Simon Matthews, told easy Group to either sue him, or call off the lawyers. Last month easy Group issued proceedings against the small company.
Now, Easyart.com is fighting back and it's lawyers have agreed to proceed with the case on a "no win, no fee basis".
Said Simon Matthews, CEO of Easyart.com, whose family has been in the art business in London for over 150 years: "The word ‘easy’ is in common use and cannot be owned by any one company. There are literally hundreds of companies trading with the word ‘easy’ as part of their name, many of which pre-date any of the easyGroup companies.
"We operate in a completely different area of business to easyGroup and our branding has a totally different colour and look. We are not aware that any of our 16,000 customers have been confused by our name or any implied association.
Easyart.com is confident of its position and points to a past action involving easyGroup against easyrealestate.com. Although easyGroup won the case because the domain owner had copied easyJet's set-up, colours and design for the Web site, the judge made it clear that the word "Easy" was not relevant.
A spokesman for easyGroup told The Register that Easyart.com's continued use of the domain posed a "commercial threat" to easyGroup's brand.
"We are trying to protect our consumers, we are trying to protect our brand from commercial threat," he said.
The case is due to be heard in the High Court in 2003. ®