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Two Battle Over Website Rights

January 18, 1999

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ High-chair Veronica is grappling with high school Veronica in the latest Internet domain duel, and it looks like the comic book brunette has the upper hand over the 22-month-old toddler.

David Sams registered the veronica.org domain name for his baby daughter so she could grow up at ease with the Internet. He said he spent about $1,500 and several days of work to create the site.

Then came trademark trouble. Archie Comic Publications, publishers of the Riverdale High School gang comic strips, featuring Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica, own the trademark for the name Veronica.

They have threatened legal action if Sams doesn’t pull the name, and he must decide this week, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday. Offices of the Mamaronek, N.Y., company were closed Monday and no one answered the phones.

``I feel like David and Goliath here,″ said Sams, a television producer.

The human Veronica’s Web site (www.veronica.org) shows her in a tub and in a high chair, looking perplexed.

``How can a company own my name?″ says the text. ``Veronica, in Archie comics, is a brunette. I’m a blonde. ...″

``You have a collision between a large and growing commercial use of the Internet and a large and growing community and communication use of the Internet,″ said David Johnson, co-director of the Cyberspace Law Institute in Washington. ``Certainly, we have to allow personal and commercial uses of the Net to exist.″

Sams said he would fight, but he had a backup plan in place: he has registered the veronica.cc domain name in the Cocos Islands, an Australian territory off Sri Lanka.

``It’s going to be very difficult for anybody to force them to take down our Web site,″ he said.

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