Associated Newspapers, publishers of the London Lite free newspaper, have applied to register similar titles for cities across Britain as trademarks.
In a move which could pave the way for each city to get its own Lite newspaper, or could just be a bid to block rivals from trading on the name, Associated have applied to the UK Intellectual Property Office in a bid to secure the exclusive rights to exploit the names for newspapers and a wide range of related goods and services.
The applications give Associated the potential for other alliterative titles Leeds Lite, Leicester Lite and Liverpool Lite.
Other cities covered in applications are Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Norwich, and Nottingham.
Two further applications have been made for Scotland Lite and Yorkshire Lite. Each application has cost Associated £350, taking the total bill to £5250.
As well as covering newspapers, the applications relate to goods and services across four trademark classes, including computer equipment, online newspapers and services, calendars, stationery, debit cards, advertising services, TV and radio services, education and entertainment services, including digital music and the organisation of competitions, quizzes, and games.
Interested parties now have three months to lodge objections to the application with the UK IPO, after which it will decide if the mark can be registered.
Companies and individuals apply to register names and logos as trademarks in order to identify the commercial source or origin of goods and services, and set their business and its products or services apart from those of others.
Trademark owners can enforce their trademarks as a means of preventing others from using identical, or even, in some cases, similar, names and logos.
Associated bought web addresses for more than 20 free city papers across the UK in late 2006 – on the same day that Press Gazette revealed that rival free evening publisher News International had done the same.
The publisher registered at least 23 internet domain names on 6 October 2006, after it emerged that thelondonpaper publisher had secured a number of possible free newspaper names including thebirminghampaper, thebristolpaper and theglasgowpaper.
In the south of England, Associated bought the .co.uk web addresses for “Lite” newspapers in Brighton, Bristol, Bath, Southampton, Plymouth, Cambridge, Ipswich, Norwich and Oxford.
In the Midlands, it registered Birmingham Lite, Nottingham Lite, Derby Lite, Stoke Lite, Leicester Lite and Coventry Lite.
And further north, Lite domain names for Leeds, Hull, Liverpool, Sheffield, Edinburgh and Glasgow have been registered. Associated also owns cardifflite.co.uk and swansealite.co.uk.
All the addresses were registered for a two-year period to Associated’s headquarters in Derry Street, west London.
The company decided not to buy “Lite” domain names for Manchester, Sunderland, Chester, Portsmouth or Belfast.
In 2006, Press Gazette revealed that News International had bought the domain names for at least 10 UK cities – suggesting that thelondonpaper model would expand outside of the capital.
Among the addresses registered were thebirminghampaper, thebristolpaper, themanchesterpaper, thehullpaper, theleedspaper, theyorkpaper, theedinburghpaper, theglasgowpaper, thecardiffpaper and theliverpoolpaper.
News International had also bought the rights to thenewyorkpaper.com.
Registering a web address is inexpensive – with prices starting from about £5 per name per year. Companies frequently register names they may not necessarily need, to stop “cybersquatters” buying them and then selling them on for a profit.
Associated was, however, beaten to one address. Yorklite.co.uk was claimed in 1999 by a lighting company on the outskirts of Darlington.