Originally created 04/11/98

'Masters.com' subject of lawsuit



Golf greats may be competing for the Masters Tournament title on the greens, but two organizations claiming title to the name "masters" are having it out in court.

Bancroft & Masters, a computer consulting company in Redwood City, Calif., is suing Augusta National Inc., the corporation that owns Augusta National Golf Club and uses Masters as a trademark.

The computer company filed the lawsuit in California and is asking the court to OK the name of its World Wide Web site, "masters.com."

Bancroft lawyer Doug Chaikin has asked the court to order the private club to turn over its privileged list of members and ticketholders in the latest round between the two organizations.

Lawyers for Augusta National have asked a judge to dismiss the case.

According to Mr. Chaikin, the basis of the request is that Augusta National says it has no business interests in California. But Mr. Chaikin says it does.

Mr. Chaikin said he needs the list to prove the case should not be dismissed.

The lawsuit, filed in December in a federal court in California, was prompted by a letter from an Augusta National lawyer asking the California company to stop using "masters" in its web site name because it infringed on Augusta National's trademark, Mr. Chaikin said.

The letter's author, George M. Taulbee, said Friday he had no comment on the case. He is with the law firm Alston & Bird in Charlotte, N.C.

Patrick Rice, Augusta National's lawyer in Augusta, was not available for an interview Friday, his firm said after two telephone calls to his office. Mr. Rice is with the law firm Hull, Towill, Norman & Barrett.

But Bancroft & Masters officials said that they are entitled to the masters name because they registered it with Network Solutions Inc., the organization that issues the rights to web names.