Sunday 25 February 2018

The Times drops name of new on-line Irish edition after The Irish Times launches legal action

The Four Courts in Dublin
The Four Courts in Dublin

By Ray Managh

UK publisher Times Newspapers Ltd told the High Court that it will not use the title "The Times Ireland” for a new online newspaper it plans to introduce in Ireland.

On foot of legal objections by The Irish Times Ltd last week, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan granted the Irish-based newspaper permission to inform the UK publisher of its intention to apply for court orders legally blocking what The Irish Times described as “a very serious violation” of its copyright.

The Irish Times had objected to the alleged intended use by the UK group of the title “The Times Ireland” for a new online newspaper.

Read more: The Irish Times launches legal action against London Times over on-line newspaper

Both parties today told Mr Justice Raymond Fulham that the proceedings could be struck out on a number of undertakings by Times Newspapers Ltd not to use the title “The Times Ireland” or domain names,, or using the description The Times Ireland on Twitter accounts.

Barrister Jonathan Newman SC, for The Irish Times Ltd, had initially told the court that the Irish-based newspaper had brought the proceedings because “the potential for confusion is enormous” and the proposed use of the name The Times Ireland was “a very serious violation” of its copyright.

Mr Newman had said during last week’s ex-parte application to put the UK publisher on notice of its intentions to block any infringement of copyright and breach of The Irish Times trade mark , that The Irish Times Ltd believed the UK publisher was due to start publishing its online paper imminently.

The court had heard that the new publication is a digital edition of The Times due to be part of a seven-day subscription package with The Sunday Times.

The Irish Times Ltd had sought several orders, including orders preventing the UK publisher using the name or title The Times Ireland or any name similar to The Irish Times in respect of a newspaper or online newspaper.

The Irish Times also sought orders prohibiting the UK publisher using  specific domain names or logos that might be confused with the “IT” logo.

Mr Newman told the court that The Irish Times Ltd was aware for some months of the UK publisher’s intention to publish an Irish edition e-paper and had no issue with that but did have a complaint about the use of allegedly confusing titles.

He said The Irish Times Ltd had only become aware within recent days, following posts on social media, that Times Newspapers Ltd’s proposed publication would be called “The Times Ireland.”  He added that the use of that name would cause The Irish Times, whose online publication was viewed six million times every month, “enormous problems.”

Mr Newman told the earlier hearing that undertakings had been sought from the UK publisher not to use those titles but none had been forthcoming. 

He said lawyers for Times Newspapers Ltd had, in correspondence, claimed there was no basis for asking the High Court to have the injunctions sought put in place.

The correspondence had also stated that The Irish Times Ltd had known since last February of the intention to launch “The Times Ireland” and there had been no imminent plans for the proposed publication to be launched before June 5.

Counsel for Times Newspapers Ltd told Mr Justice Fulham today that agreed undertakings regarding the non-use of the titles complained of would be handed into court.

He said his clients had given the undertakings without any admission of liability on the part of Times Newspapers Ltd.

“Our position is that this application was somewhat premature and the motion sought by the applicant may be struck out with costs reserved,” he said.  “The matter of costs can be dealt with on another day.

The court struck out the motion brought by The Irish Times Ltd but granted the Irish newspaper company liberty to re-enter the proceedings.

The undertaking to the court from Times Newspaper Ltd stated:

:: The Defendant will not use in any manner whatsoever the name or title The Times Ireland or Times Ireland in respect of a newspaper or on-line newspaper;

:: The Defendant will not utilise the domain names and;  and

::The Defendant will not use the descriptions The Times Ireland or Times Ireland in connection with the Twitter accounts @The TimesIRL or @roakleyIRL or any other Twitter accounts.

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