Hot tub firm’s web site makes a splash

The Hot Tub Showroom on Amy Johnson Way, Blackpool

The Hot Tub Showroom on Amy Johnson Way, Blackpool

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A spa supplier avoided landing in hot water after a dispute with a Blackpool rival was taken up with the web watchdog.

The Hot Tubs Superstore, based on Amy Johnson Way, South Shore, took action against Doncaster firm Artesian Spas over a web domain name it was using.

However watchdog Nominet ruled the company could continue to use the website hottubssuperstore.co.uk despite its similarity to the Blackpool firm’s own site.

A deal was later struck privately between the two companies, in which The Hot Tubs Superstore bought the domain names from its rivals.

Director Ross Phillipson said: “We are the primary hot tub supplier in the UK and our competitors registered a vary similar web address to ours a couple of years ago.

“We went through legal challenges and we initially lost on a technicality. We have since purchased the address off the owner.”

The company’s complaint centred on the allegation that Artesian’s use of the virtual real estate was a “direct attempt to confuse searchers” with The Hot Tubs Superstore’s own “almost identical” site – thehottubssuperstore.co.uk.

Nominet expert, Gill Grassie, said The Hot Tubs Superstore registered its own domain in September 2008 and has spent £300,000 advertising it since mid-2011.

However, Artesian insisted its use of the address was fair and there was “zero chance” of it benefiting from the competitor’s web marketing as the domain “correctly described who it was and what it was trying to achieve as a company”.

Ms Grassie found that, while the Lanchashire company had a right to “The Hot Tubs Superstore” trade mark, allegations Artesian’s use of the site was “abusive” simply were not proved in what was a “finely balanced case”.

He refused to order Artesian to transfer the disputed web address to The Hot Tub Superstore.

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