UK Online slams Govt. trademark trampling

Sticks and stones

Geoffrey Fenton, MD of ISP UK Online, has called on the British Government to rename its new e-government strategy, UK Online, accusing Downing Street of hijacking its trademark. Last week wired PM, Tonee e-Blair, launched the new drive to speed up Government plans to offer services online bringing forward its deadline from 2008 to 2005. But while e-Blair and his e-cohorts congratulated themselves on a job well done, Fenton was hopping mad "deeply dissatisfied, angry, appalled, incredibly upset, outraged, concerned and disappointed" (see earlier story) with the Government's decision to brand the new e-commerce initiative UK Online. He accused the Government of steamrollering his company's trademark, having a similar domain and logo. "We are appalled that the government has used the name of our respected brand to launch their new e-government initiative," he said in a statement. A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office said the Government was aware of the UK Online brand before it announced its new initiative and that the Government's e-envoy even wrote to Fenton "ahead of the plans". But according to Fenton, the letter was only sent two days before the Government made its announcement. So it seems that the Government was aware of the possible conflict but thought, "what the heck, we'll do it anyway". And they may be right. One city lawyer told The Register that since the services offered by UK Online and UK Online were fundamentally different, the ISP would have a tough case proving trademark infringement. Fenton would not be drawn on whether he would instigate legal action against the Government if it didn't comply with his wishes. ® Related Stories Government plays cybersquatter

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