Government accused of pirating UK Online name

The growing shortage of decent Internet names and the Government’s increasing interest in the Net have propelled Prime Minister Tony Blair into an embarrassing conflict with one of his own cyber-advisers.

A company called UK Online (www.ukonline.co.uk), which claims to be the leading family-oriented Internet service provider (ISP), has expressed deep dissatisfaction and anger” at the Government’s announcement that it plans to launch an e-commerce initiative in the summer, to be called UK Online” (www.ukonline.gov.uk).

UK Online’s managing director Geoffrey Fenton says: “We agree with the Government that the UK needs to become more Web-aware, but using the name of an established UK Internet company is surely not the way forward.”

Grahame Davies, managing director of Easynet Group, owner of UK Online, adds: “UK Online has been established for many years and has a high reputation. We can fully understand why others may covet the name but we are outraged that the Government has chosen to do so without our input. Even the logo is similar.”

Easynet recently contributed to a Government think-tank on e-society. A Government spokesman told Marketing Week: “We wrote to Easynet and made it clear we would not be competing with them. There is minimal risk of confusion between a Government portal and an ISP.”

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