Copyrighted and trademarked?
Kings of all they survey?
By Torleif Sorenson on 2/12/13
As reported by the Scotsman and Edinburgh-based Deadline News, the St. Andrews Links Trust have apparently decided to wage war against businesses in that town for using "St. Andrews" in their business name. The latest episode occurred when the St. Andrews Golf Company, a business with 130-year-old ties to club-makers in town, recently tried to register their trademarks with the UK's Intellectual Property Office. You can imagine their shock when the Links Trust filed an objection, claiming that the non-profit organization holds the rights to the words "St Andrews," even though the trust only came into existence in 1974.

The Scotsman quoted a Links Trust spokesman (who apparently refused to be identified by name) as saying,
"The Links Trust courses are the oldest and most renowned in the world and often referred to simply as St Andrews. The trustees view it as their duty to reduce the danger of misrepresentation and to nurture what the name symbolises around the world."
Ewan Glen, CEO of St Andrews Golf Company, gave a rather blunt reply:
"What has happened is absolutely outrageous. The trust was set up to run the golf courses and it is dripping with money received from the public in green fees. Money and power seems to have gone to its head and [it is] now resorting to bullying and threatening businesses that have been in St Andrews for generations.

"I fully understand that the 'St Andrews' name needs to be protected from the threat of counterfeiting and copying but the trust is acting like a hard-nosed commercial company, rather than a not-for-profit trust. They [the trustees] are pretending to be the only legitimate custodians and seem to want to play God with the name of St Andrews."
And now comes a threat from the Links Trust:
"We have been told by the trust they will take us all the way legally even if it means going to judicial review and they have made it clear they will spend as much as it takes to knock our company out of this battle. That could happen because we simply do not have the same ­financial clout as the trust and I think that is a misuse of what is effectively public money.

"The trust seems happy to go to war with people like us – but we are not alone. The trust already has had battles with other prominent businesses in the town."
For some comparison, various San Francisco politicians already tried the same sort of tactic — and failed in the process. In 2006, following several unsuccessful attempts to work with San Francisco politicians to build a replacement for the aging and decrepit Candlestick Park, the NFL's San Francisco 49ers began working with the City of Santa Clara to develop a replacement venue. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) responded by threatening to write legislation preventing the team from continuing to use the name "San Francisco" and the word "49ers" in the team name. In a breathtaking stretch of assumed authority, Feinstein claimed:
"I look at it as my role to keep the team in San Francisco and protect the name. I hope the NFL and the commissioner work with us."
Another controversial politician, now-former California State Assembly member Carole Migden proposed SB49, a piece of legislation that would have prevented the team from building a new stadium within a 100-mile radius of the city of San Francisco. But like the television show Cop Rock, Migden's legislation proved extremely unpopular and was doomed to failure. The 49ers' new 68,500-seat stadium is under construction and scheduled to be completed in July of 2014.

A legal ruling is obviously some distance in the future, but bears watching, especially from the standpoint of identity and intellectual property rights, as well as its impact on the golf landscape.

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Image via Flickr, Graham & Marion

[ comments ]
bducharm says:
I don't see how this is going to stand up but you never know. The village is called St. Andrews. I'm sure the name that is being used in village businesses are because of that.

On another note, Cisco Systems originally was to be called San Francisco Systems, however the city declined and the name was shortened.
Kurt the Knife says:
'Frisco Systems
ooo we'd hate that.
bducharm says:
LOL @Kurt!!!
Matt F says:
Sounds like the Ugg boot case. Decker shoes (a US company that makes cheap chinese ugg boots) tried to sue all businesses in Australia that used the word Ugg and also tried to trademark the name.

They failed spectacularly on both counts.
[ post comment ]
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