Yell vs Yellowikis
She started it as a hobby - a listings website that was inspired by Wikipedia and Craigslist. But 15-year-old Rosa Blaus' initiative appeared to have backfired yesterday when she learned her website had infuriated the company behind Yellow Pages.
The teenager, who set up the Yellowikis site with her father Paul Youlden, has been accused of attempting to pass it off as a legitimate arm of the telephone directory. Yell, which owns the Yellow Pages brand in the UK, this week confirmed that it was taking legal action to force Miss Blaus to hand over the Yellowikis name and the site's contents.
Yellowikis plans to fight the action, claiming that it is not trading off its rival. "Even if we win, it's likely to cost us thousands of pounds," said Mr Youlden. "Although we have asked the users of the site to help, it's difficult to know how much support we'd get from them."
Yell claims that Miss Blaus' site is infringing trademark rights with its name, logo and business directory. The Yellowikis site allows any company to add and edit its own listings, unlike Yellow Pages, which has closed listings paid for by the advertisers. Although the Yellowikis site is based in Britain, only around 175 of its 5,000 listings are for businesses in the UK. But because the service is hosted on the mainland, Yell claims it is a violation of its trademark rights.
"Yell takes its brand and intellectual property seriously," a spokesman said. "Like any prudent brand owner, it seeks to protect it."
Many users of the site have pledged small donations to the legal fund, and it has also garnered support from a high-profile backer, Jimmy Wales, founder of online encyclopedia Wikipedia. "We have offered Yellowikis financial help if they need it," he said.