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Fry's accuses site owner of cybersquatting

Fry's Electronics threatens to sue a man who posted the company's newspaper advertisements on his Web site, according to the site's owner.

Fry's Electronics doesn't need any help advertising, thank you very much.

A favorite tech shopping mecca known for its eclectic collection of goods, Fry's has threatened to sue a man who posted the company's newspaper advertisements on his Web site, Frysad.com, according to the site's owner.

"It looks like Fry's has finally decided to thank me for all the hard work I have put in making their ads visible to thousands of people who might not otherwise have seen them," Frysad.com founder Garret Maki said in a message on his Web site.

Maki scans in and posts the newspaper ads Fry's places in the Los Angeles Times every Friday. Known for price-slashing promotions, the Fry's full-page newspaper ads are a popular guide for tech geeks to find the chain's best deals. In his posted message, Maki said he received a letter from Fry's attorney David Frey on Tuesday accusing him of trademark infringement and acts of unfair competition.

Fry's demanded Maki cease operations and turn over the Frysad.com domain name by March 2, according to a copy of the letter posted on Frysad.com. Unless Maki cooperated, Fry's said it would "bring legal action" against him.

When asked to confirm that he had sent the letter that was posted on the site, Frey told CNET News.com: "It's got my name on it, doesn't it?"

Frey declined to elaborate on the letter.

According to the letter purportedly from Fry's, the company is out to protect its trademark, something the company has fought fiercely for. In the past, Fry's has sued Network Solutions, the Internet's largest domain name registry, to keep control of the Fry's domain name. Fry's said the lawsuit against Network Solutions helped set new guidelines, disclaimers and resolution policies at the registry.

"The courts take a very dim view towards domain name pirates or cybersquatters," the letter read.

Fry's also accuses Maki of aiding the company's competitors by linking to products that can be found at other electronics stores.

"A potential Fry's customer goes to your Web site and is then presented with advertisements for and links to Fry's direct competitors and solicitations to give you money," the letter said. "This is clearly improper."

Although Fry's has 16 brick-and-mortar stores across the Western United States, it has chosen not to sell its products over the Internet. On Fry's.com, customers can get directions to the closest Fry's store and receive information on how to order high-speed Internet access from the company, but they can't order goods.

On Friday, the Frysad.com site had links to online electronics stores, but not for any brick-and-mortar stores.

"He's blowing their horn louder than anyone in the world and they are trying to shut him down," said Ralph Evans, a Fullerton, Calif.-based attorney who has offered to represent Maki. "It's horrible doublespeak to say he's competing with them...I and everybody else goes to his site to see the Fry's ads. If Fry's got on the ball, they would scan their own ads in and put them on their site."