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Palm, Brit agree to share

Although the handheld giant has been working for months on its MyPalm portal site, there is one detail that apparently got overlooked.

Although Palm has been working for months on its MyPalm portal site, there was one detail that apparently got overlooked: Someone already registered the domain name.

Dominic Hulewicz, the owner of a British Internet consulting firm, purchased the domain name late last year. While he acknowledges he hardly uses the Web site, Hulewicz said he liked using the domain name for his email, which he often reads on his Palm handheld while traveling.

"I actually use it on a daily basis for retrieving email," Hulewicz said Wednesday in a phone interview from his London office.

Hulewicz said he was dismayed earlier this month when he got a letter from Palm lawyers demanding that he hand over the domain. Hulewicz got the letter just days after Palm announced its MyPalm service, which is set to launch in December.

After initially putting pressure on him, Hulewicz said, Palm retreated from its hard-line stance. Hulewicz said he is now close to a deal in which he gets to keep his prized email address, while traffic to the site will be sent to Palm's Web site.

"We're most of the way to some sort of an agreement," Hulewicz said.

A Palm spokeswoman confirmed that the parties are close to a deal.

"We are delighted to be moving toward a happy agreement," Palm spokeswoman Marlene Somsak said.

Disputes over domain names have become commonplace, entangling celebrities such as Madonna and Julia Roberts.

Hulewicz, whose business helps companies establish an Internet presence, said checking the availability of a domain name is one of the first things he advises clients to do.

Somsak said Palm had planned to use the address "," which it does own. However, Palm apparently anticipated that many consumers would head to "" in search of the new portal.

For much of its life, Hulewicz's site had only a picture of a Palm handheld. But as of Wednesday, Hulewicz began redirecting traffic to Palm's site--even though an agreement with Palm is not final yet.

"I've done it as an act of good will," said Hulewicz, who added that Palm will pay him. He would not say how much.

Hulewicz said he understands Palm's concern that its customers not be confused but did not appreciate its heavy-handed tactics. Had he been asked nicely, Hulewicz said, he probably would have redirected the traffic from the start.

"My problem with them is the way they went about trying to demand the domain name from me."

Before sending the letter, Somsak said, Palm had tried to buy the domain name--anonymously--through a broker.

"In hindsight, we wish that we had contacted him directly to negotiate the purchase," Somsak said.