Wednesday 13 December 2017

Kells bells! TCD puts ancient book's name to beer

Harry Leech

It's probably not what the Columban monks had in mind as they slaved by candlelight over the manuscript that was to become the Book of Kells in the year 800, but visitors to the books exhibition in Trinity College may soon be able to buy Book of Kells-branded soaps, perfumery, cosmetics and even beer.

Officials of the College applied in February to the EU's Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market for the copyright under the college's legal name of the "Provost, Fellows and scholars of the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin".

The visual copyright is for use on everything from confectionery to jewellry.

This is in addition to a trademark which the college registered in 2010, which has protected the phrase "The Book of Kells" for use on a plethora of textile goods, including bed covers, towels, tea towels, napkins, placemats, tablecloths, cushion covers, bed linen and bath linen.

Along with textiles, the college has also trademarked the name for use on beer, ale, lager and spirits. But while the thought of a Book of Kells-branded tablecloth or a pint of Book of Kells beer may sound a little tacky to some, a number of the goods now trademarked seem positively bizarre.

The phrase "The Book of Kells" is now trademarked by the college for use on: life-saving and teaching apparatus and instruments; apparatuses and instruments for conducting, switching, transforming, accumulating, regulating or controlling electricity; and containers for contact lenses, parasols, whips and fire extinguishers.

The Book of Kells has been on display in Trinity College since the mid-19th century and has been bound in four volumes since 1953. Approximately 470,000 visitors saw the exhibition last year and it raises an estimated €4m for the university on an annual basis.

But according to Caoimhe Ní Lochlainn, a spokeswoman for Trinity College, the majority of revenue generated from admissions is invested in the upkeep of the Old Library, which houses 200,000 of the college's oldest books in its oak bookcases and the conservation of its collection of early printed books and manuscripts.

The college currently sells a small amount of Book of Kells merchandise, including a poster, postcards, DVD-Rom and reference book.

The university declined to estimate the amount of revenue it hoped to raise or indicate when the new products would be available.

Sunday Independent

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