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Government plays cybersquatter

UK Online incredibly upset, outraged, appalled

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How many synonyms for annoyed can you squeeze into an eight-paragraph press release? UK Online, a consumer subsidiary of Easynet, the AIM-listed ISP, manages seven. Run these together and you find the company is "deeply dissatisfied, angry, appalled, incredibly upset, outraged, concerned and disappointed" with the Government's decision to brand a new e-commerce initiative UK Online. The government is also setting up a Web site for the service, which goes live in the summer, using the address ukonline.gov.uk. UK Online is irritated with the government for trampling over its trademark. It has every right to be concerned with this egregious example of 21st Century British imperialism. (We may have lost our overseas dominions, but by gad, that won't stop us from colonising cyberspace.) Let's hope the Government does the decent thing – and selects another brandname for its scheme. Time now to return to UK Online's press release. Does Grahame Davies, managing director of Easynet, really begin his sentences with commercial breaks, as opposed to English? Here is an example from the release: "We can fully understand why others may covet this brand-name, as our users enjoy the high quality of service, peace of mind through our UK Online Childcheck filtering system and many other features..." And why does his underling, UK Online boss Geoffrey Fenton, have the same affliction, to wit: "As the longest established UK Internet Service Provider with a dedicated following of family users, we are appalled that the government has used the name of our respected brand..." ® That press release in full: UK Online leads the Government by six years UK Online (www.ukonline.co.uk), the UK's leading free Internet service provider for the family, today expressed deep dissatisfaction and anger at the announcement that the Government plans to launch a new e-commerce initiative in the summer to be named "UK Online" ukonline.gov.uk. Geoffrey Fenton, UK Online's managing director commented today: "As the longest established UK Internet Service Provider with a dedicated following of family users, we are appalled that the government has used the name of our respected brand to launch their new e-government initiative. "We agree with the Government that the UK needs to become more web-aware and that we should encourage more ebusinesses and widespread take up of the Internet, but using the name of an established UK Internet company, UK Online, is surely not the way forward! We are incredibly upset by yesterday's announcement." Grahame Davies, managing director of Easynet Group Plc owner of UK Online, added: "UK Online has been established for many years and the brand has developed a high reputation, representing value for money, high quality Internet access. "We can fully understand why others may covet this brand-name, as our users enjoy the high quality of service, peace of mind through our UK Online Childcheck filtering system and many other features, but we are outraged that the Government has chosen to do so without our input. Not only are they using an identical brand-name, but even the logo is similar!* "We have a trade mark on our UK Online brand which we are keen to protect. Naturally we are concerned that there should be no confusion caused. "Easynet have recently contributed to a Government Think Tank on the e-society and we are disappointed that our co-operation is not being reciprocated by the Government's announcement." Notes to editors *See http://www.e-envoy.gov.uk/2000/pressnotices/30mar00no10.htm for Government's press information and branding.

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