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EasyGroup abandons domain claim against Easyart.com

EasyGroup founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has withdrawn his action against on-line art seller Easyart.com. The Greek entrepreneur first acted because he claims rights to the prefix "easy". But with his easyCinema waiting in the wings, he reasons that he has “bigger fish to fry.”12 May 2003

The case against Easyart.com began last year, with easyGroup arguing that the smaller company was "passing itself off" as being connected with his business. It was the latest in a series of actions by easyGroup to protect the “easy” brand name that has seen the company accused of bully tactics. Several small companies have given up their brand names when faced with the costs of fighting the claims.

Simon Matthews, CEO of Easyart, told the Guardian: "We hope this gives hope to many other companies out there who are trading legitimately under the 'Easy' name and who have been threatened by this man.”

A spokesman for easyGroup told the Guardian: "We've got easyCinema, easyBus and easyPizza to launch and easyDorm is launching later this year. We've got bigger fish to fry and this was taking up too much of Stelios's time," he said, before adding that further action against Easyart was not ruled out in the future.

The easyCinema venture will continue the low price, no frills approach with tickets costing as little as 20 pence each if booked in advance and on-line, with prices rising towards market rate nearer showtime.

Stelios plans to pay film distributors a flat fee up front for each film, per week, rather than the revenue sharing model that currently exists between cinemas and distributors whereby a percentage of box office receipts goes to the distributors.

According to Screendaily, the company has secured four titles for the opening of its first cinema in Milton Keynes on 23rd May. But they are not blockbusters, and easyCinema is struggling to get the UK's major distributors to cooperate. In a statement at easyCinema.com, Stelios says:

"I am delighted that an independent film distributor, Pathe UK, have decided to supply easyCinema with films. At least now we are in business. The situation with the top six UK distributors representing more than 90% of the market is still in a deadlock. I have instructed my lawyers to discuss this issue with the Office of Fair Trading."