The Register pours vast quantities of scorn on a chancer by the name of Robert-Alan Lucht, who is invoicing his victims for annual licences to use the @ sign, in which he purports to own the international copyright. The “licence” covers internet and email use. The annual sums demanded are 30 euro for regular use, 20 euro for educational use and 10 euro for private use.

The IPKat is part appalled, part entranced. This ploy would appear to set new standards for brazen chutzpah. He would like to know, though, of any country in which an attempt to extract royalties from internet and email users for alleged copyright infringement is itself a legal wrong. Can any IPKat browsers oblige?

History of the @ sign here and here
More scams here
Scambusters here

Stop press (Friday 20 August): The IPKat has just received from one of its readers this link to a US trade mark for a rather attractively sexed-up version of the @ sign. Thanks for sending it in, John.
PAY TO USE "@"? YOU MUST BE JOKING PAY TO USE "@"? YOU MUST BE JOKING Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, August 19, 2004 Rating: 5


  1. It is almost certainly a tort - deceit - to extract royalties for use of the '@' sign in the UK.

    To make out a case in deceit is necessary to prove malice - knowledge that the claim is baseless or recklessness as to its truth of falsity. This is unlikely to prove problematic here. A court would be very unlikely to believe protestations by Mr Lucht that he thought he had a case.

    An attempt to extract money would constitute an attempted tort and could be stopped by a preventative injunction.

    No doubt the attempt to extract money also constitutes a criminal attempt to defraud.

  2. Hey would you like to trade links with me? [I place your link on my site, you place mine on yours] I have over 20,000 hits a month on my blog - just post a comment if you're interested and I'll gladly put your link in my blogroll on the sidebar! Thanks, Paul


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