Tuesday 21 November 2017

Trinity Provost in legal row over war memorial website

Move by university declared 'un-Trinity' by team who want recognition for lost soldiers

Objection: Provost of Trinity College, Dr Patrick Prendergast has initiated the legal action
Objection: Provost of Trinity College, Dr Patrick Prendergast has initiated the legal action

The Provost of Ireland's oldest university, Trinity College Dublin, has threatened legal action against a campaign for the remembrance of college alumni who fought and died in the Second World War in a row over the alleged use of the college trademarks.

News of the legal threats from Dr Patrick Prendergast has caused outrage among academics at the college during Remembrance Week.

Dr Prendergast has been blasted for acting in a very "un-Trinity way" by "stifling democratic debate" by the co-ordinator of the memorial.

The project was set up to campaign for a memorial statue to be erected on Trinity's grounds in honour of the 111 Trinity alumni who died in the Second World War.

Solicitors for the college contacted the project team last week demanding them to "immediately cease use of our client's registered trade mark TCD as part of your website domain name," according to legal correspondence seen by the Sunday Independent.

The college has also demanded the project remove all reference to Trinity College from the website www.tcdwarmemorialproject.com.

The project is encouraging visitors to sign a petition asserting that "the Trinity Dead have been written out of the story of World War Two and most shamefully by their Alma Mater Trinity College Dublin".

This invitation to send the petitions to the office of the Provost has clearly angered college bosses, who according to the legal correspondence, "object strenuously to receiving this unsolicited correspondence".

The college said if action was not taken within 10 days, then it would "take whatever steps it considers necessary to protect its valuable intellectual property rights".

Peter Mulvany, a long-time campaigner to recognise the contribution of those who died during the Second World War, is the co-ordinator of the project.

In a written response, Mr Mulvany severely criticised the college's action saying the website address was legitimately available from the Irish Domain Registry.

"It's time for Trinity College to address its failure to adequately remember its own," Mr Mulvany said.

"I am the legal owner and registrant of the website and will continue to use that address until such time as the Irish Domain Registry removes same from their list. Stifling democratic debate through threats of legal action is very un-Trinity," he added.

"tcd lowercase is not a registered trade mark of Trinity College Dublin. Your clients can be assured that one will not be going away," he said.

However, on foot of the threats the name of the campaign was changed from the Trinity College Dublin War Memorial Project to the University War Memorial Project.

Mr Mulvany said that Trinity has for years failed to address the memorial issue and that legitimate protest/campaigns are the only way to draw attention to that omission.

Mr Mulvany has also purchased an additional website domain, registered outside the Irish jurisdiction, and is unencumbered by copyright.

In a statement to the Sunday Independent, Trinity said: "There is no disagreement between the Provost and the University War Memorial Project. There is an issue, however, around the use of the Trinity College Dublin name in the campaign's website in its domain and content."

"The website uses a number of registered trademarks for the College (Trinity, Trinity College, TCD). In protecting the college's name, it is normal practice for its legal counsel to inform those of any misuse, which was done in this case. The campaign website also invited visitors to send letters to the Provost which it was also asked to desist from doing," the statement added.

DANIEL McCONNELL Political Correspondent

Sunday Independent

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