Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has given a reminder of the importance of careful domain registration, with an oversight that could cost his party a seven-figure sum to fix.
The Eurosceptic party, which triumphed in this year’s European Parliament elections and is fielding candidates in many constituencies for the upcoming general election, was founded almost exactly a year ago. Soon after, the party bought www.thebrexitparty.org and set up the website.
Sadly for Farage and his party, they were too slow to snap up www.thebrexitparty.com. That was bought by the anti-Brexit group Led By Donkeys, which is now using it to publish an advent calendar of what it calls “lies, lunacy and hypocrisy” from the Brexit Party and Conservative Party.
Led By Donkeys says it has received letters from Farage’s lawyers threatening to sue the group (citing EU law, ironically). In response, it has offered to sell the website to him in exchange for a £1m donation to the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. This asking price is increasing by £50,000 a day and stands at £1.2m as of midday on Monday.
Has Farage got a case?
The screenshot of the legal letter shared by Led By Donkeys makes reference to the unauthorised use of the Brexit Party logo, but the groups claims it also includes a demand for the website, for which it says Farage has “no legitimate claim”.
The Brexit Party logo does not currently appear on the site, so in effect all Farage is trying to claim is the domain name. Since it does not impersonate the party, and makes no secret of the fact that it is run by Led By Donkeys, it is difficult to see how such a claim could be successful.
What can we learn from this?
Most small businesses will not be faced with the prospect of groups like Led By Donkeys taking the mickey out of them, but the episode highlights the point that firms are well advised to purchase a few domain names and redirect them to their main one. If available, it’s worth considering paying for the .com, .co.uk and .org version of a domain. Companies with two or more words in their name who want to be meticulous might also want to think about paying for their name both hyphenated and as one word in their URL.