UK government officials will meet with the owners of internet provider UK Online later this month, to explain why it has lifted the ISP's name for its e-government portal.
E-minister, Patricia Hewitt, will meet with Easynet Group, owner of UK Online, on 20 April in an attempt to sort out the fiasco, which could see the government infringing trademark law.
The dispute centres around the government's plans, announced last month, to launch this summer a new personalised gateway to government online services, called UK Online.
However, the ISP, which has used the UK Online name for five years, accuses the government of taking its brand name. Grahame Davies, managing director of Easynet, said the company is keen to protect the brand. He added: "Not only are they using an identical brand-name, but even the logo is similar."
He told vnunet.com that the company has taken legal advice and "will act on it to do what is necessary to protect our trademark."
"The most satisfactory outcome will be for the government to change the name and logo. It is not in our interests for it to go ahead in its current format. It would cause confusion in the marketplace both ways," he said.
A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said that the meeting "will be a chance to discuss with Easynet how to deal with the situation."
"We won't know how to proceed until after the meeting," she added.
Brad Burton, UK Online marketing manager, said: "It's ironic that Grahame Davies is part of the government's e-society thinktank."
After the government's announcement, Geoffrey Fenton, UK Online's managing director, said: "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."
Dai Davis, head of the IT group at law firm Nabarro Nathanson, said: "A trademark can be breached by the government, as well as a company, if it detracts from its present use."
He said avoiding choosing a name already owned by another company can be an expensive process: "It is vital to do so, but can cost millions. When Mars Confectionery changed its chocolate bar's name from Marathon to Snickers because it wanted a global brand, it cost the company £6m to make sure the name was available."
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