An angry passenger who set up a website called 'I Hate Ryanair' has been ordered to hand over the site's name to the airline he despises.
Robert Tyler, of London, set up the site in 2007 as a means for disgruntled Ryanair passengers to share their horror stories about the budget carrier.
Outspoken Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary complained about the site in April this year, branding the website "vitriolic and highly disparaging", the Guardian reports.
Despite the fact that the website made clear it had no official links to the airline, authorities ruled the web address had to be handed over to Ryanair because Tyler had made money from the site.
The adjudicators at Nominet, which manages web addresses in Britain, said Tyler had made £322 in advertising revenue from the site. This was the crucial factor that saw Tyler forced to shut down the site.
One of Nominet's experts, Jane Seager said if the domain name used a company's brand it “must be wholly devoted to honest criticism and open discussion and not potentially tainted by commercial concerns".
Ryanair had accused the site of taking unfair advantage of its brand name and making defamatory statements about the airline's service and safety standards.
However, the airline's victory has been shortlived. Tyler immediately set up a new website, ihateryanair.org, which he stated on the hompage would “continue to provide you with all the latest" on "this pathetic excuse for an airline”.
“We are yet to decide on whether or not to appeal the decision,” the site read. “It costs around £3000 to do so, which could be used instead to buy 16,000,000 Ryanair flights (not including booking fees, credit card fees, baggage fees, bus from the airport in the middle of nowhere etc).”
Ryanair has regularly courted controversy in Europe over its cost-cutting measures. Most recently O'Leary suggested the airline might do away with co-pilots by training flight attendants to fill their role.
Other suggestions O'Leary has made - possibly in jest - including charging passengers to use the toilets on board aircraft, installing 'standing room' seats and suggesting passengers carry their own checked luggage to the plane's cargo hold.