To Brexit or to Party ?
The Brexit Party, the eurosceptic party led by Nigel Farage, has been founded on the 23 of November 2018 and became active in January 2019 (source: wikipedia.org et companieshouse.gov.uk). The domain name thebrexitparty.org, associated with the main website of said party, has been registered on the 20 of January 2019.
On the 26 of October 2018, the domain name thebrexitparty.com has been registered by a person whose contact information is obfuscated on the WHOIS database.
While the above-mentioned party was formally founded on the 23 or November 2018, some British press articles mentioned, at the end of September 2018, threats from a donor of the conservative party to fund a brexit party. These articles are accessible on the respective websites of The Telegraph (The Telegraph, 22 Sept. 2018) and The Independent (The Independent, 23 Sept. 2018). It is difficult to determine what inspired the current registrant of thebrexitparty.com to register this domain name. However, the above-mentioned press articles, and more generally the news on Brexit, might have been a source of inspiration.
Verifications performed on the WHOIS history of thebrexitparty.com shows that this domain name was apparently registered by the UKIP party, which was led by Nigel Farage until July 2016 (the domain name has been registered in August, same year).
The domain name would have been abandoned, which allowed its current registrant to register it… In order to redirect it towards a website seemingly managed by anti-brexit activists presenting themselves as “Led by donkeys”.
According to our verifications on the website archive.org, in April 2019 the website displayed a modified ‘Brexit Party” logo (“No Brexit Party”), associated with critical content regarding Nigel Farage and his Party.
The website now proposes to transfer the domain name in exchange for more than 1 million GBP, which would be granted to an organization helping Migrants.
The website also display critical content directed toward other political personalities sharing similar ideologies with Nigel Farage and his Party.
Of course, the Brexit Party has reacted by asking for the domain name to be transferred under their management. Without developing further on the legal grounds of this demand, the anteriority of a domain name registration compared to the filing or use of a trademark is a serious obstacle in a UDRP proceeding. The fact that thebrexitparty.com has been registered before the Brexit Party foundation and trademark filings is embarassing for the Brexit Party and its representatives, in the context of approaches aiming at a transfer of the domain name to the Brexit Party.
UKIP and the Brexit Party are distinct parties and we are not in a context where the Brexit party would have abandoned a domaine name before being cybersquatted. UKIP registered the domain name thebrexitparty.com after Nigel Farage’s resignation. The above-described situation is, however, a good occasion to remind some precautionary rules, which applies not only to Political parties but also to trademark owners as a whole:
- Anticipation is a must in terms of domain names portfolio management. Securing domain names that are considered strategic for a project must be done as early as possible. In default, risks associated with the domain names registered by third parties must be evaluated and anticipated.
- A domain name portfolio must be managed in a centralized manne, particularly regarding its maintenance (registrations, renewals) in order to avoid losing strategic domain names. This particular matter is especially important in case of trademarks assignment or the sale of a company.
The two above-mentioned points are valid for all situations, they are even more important, however, in the presence of trademarks or names subject to high media coverage.
The IP Twins teams assist you in the management of your domain names portfolio and also propose a third-party owned domain names search service on your current or future trademarks.