This post has been a while in the making, around March last year I bought my initials SJ.co.uk for £x,xxx – at around the same time Nominet announced they were going to release previously held back short domain names like A.co.uk or AA.co.uk.
Reading the announcement it was clear before going to the general public there would be some sort of sunrise period where trademark holders could apply first, it was pretty much then I followed the scent and wanted one so started to read about registering a trademark.
Not long after registering my first trademark WS™ it was decided that only trademark holder who owned an active trademark pre a certain date likely to be 1996-2008 would get the chance to apply, this was a bit of a spanner in the works!
Hey ho not to be put off I dusted myself down and now knew I needed to try harder. Almost from the off my preference was to try and get pc.co.uk to go along with pcs.co.uk which I already own.
Looking up trademark owners at http://www.ipo.gov.uk/ and doing some research it was clear they can be bought & sold so I could buy an older one, right! I went to work and started emailing and sending letters offering around £1000, the fact that these individuals or companies had gone to the length of applying for a trademark and renewing it every 10 years for £200 meant I was pretty much pissing in the wind offering £1k for them so I got two replies both were no’s after lots of emails & letters.
I couldn’t go any higher, after all buying an older trademark could only possibly get me a seat at the table, anyone else applying for the same term would mean an auction so the purchase of the trademark could only ever be viewed a punt. I digested what had happened for a few days and kept going back and searching the ipo maybe for individuals rather than companies but was pretty much banging my head off a wall until one afternoon one of the trademarks I looked up for the exact term PC was registered to a Ltd company, checking companies house the limited company was dissolved, what a waste! The trademark existed and was live but the company who owned it had died, what a waste! Left to expire in 2014 when there would be nobody to renew it.
It probably would have been easy to stop there but the internet is a wonderful tool when you have a question to ask, “What happens to dissolved companies assets?” Google soon told me they become Bona Vacatia which basically means any remaining cash or assets go to the Crown. bonavacantia.gov.uk
This was a lead, worth chasing down, a bit more research and I could see people had bought assets from The Crown before, trademarks no less! I contact TSOL to ask and found they had paperwork for the job that I needed to fill in to apply to buy a trademark on PC. I never realised how inefficient the government could be, a letter posted in March took over a month before I got a reply saying yes I could buy the trademark for £1000 plus fee’s & VAT, I sent a cheque & signed the paperwork on 21st May. It wasn’t until June 24th before that cheque was cashed and it was July 10th before the trademark was actually assigned to me! What a wait and this was all to have a chance, a punt.
Nominet announced the release of short domain names to trademark holders (of which I was now one) would open on Dec 1st 2010 and close on January 17th. Here is the kicker though, not only ownership of a trademark was needed… I needed to prove it was in use pre 2008 in the UK offering a product or service, well bugger me.
Not to be put off I knew the trademark I owned was used for decades as part of a nursing school, but they never had a website, there was a Facebook group though of ex staff & pupils who had attended, I also Googled “princess christian college” and found references to it from people so I contacted them all to ask for anything dated showing the trademark, I managed to get a badge, some booklets, reports and also found an image at Getty which I bought showing someone wearing the uniform with the logo, so I put it all together and submitted proof of usage which was independently checked and verified, nice.
While I was doing this though someone else had applied for pc.co.uk and at close of play on Jan 17th there were two applicants, I had to wait until Feb 7th to hear that the other applicant did not in fact have a valid trademark, result, therefore at 4pm on Feb 7th PC.co.uk was registered.
99 uncontested domains were registered and it’s good to see so many big named companies doing their homework, BP the FA, Yahoo, Manchester United, Paypal & Virgin to name a few while many others like AA.co.uk are now going to auction with a few validated applicants. So yes I did manage to register pc.co.uk for £6 but it took a fair bit of research and patience of which I am only good at one.