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Legal Battle Brewing in St. Andrews

by Craig Better

Mar52013

st-andrews-international-golf-linksA few months ago, I told you about a handful of new golf course projects underway in Scotland (Trump’s second course in Aberdeen; The Angus near Carnoustie; and an exclusive layout on the island of Jura).

Now there’s another to add to the list, but its proposed name is hitting a bit too close to home for “the Home of Golf.”

The new course, a Tom Weiskopf design on the outskirts of St. Andrews, will be named St. Andrews International Golf Links.

But that’s not sitting too well with the St. Andrews Links Trust, overseer of the famous Old Course and its six siblings in town.

According to reports, the Links Trust lodged objections to the course trademarking the name and using it as a domain name.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation dismissed the domain name complaint, but the trademark fight is ongoing.

And it’s not the only such legal battle in which the Links Trust is currently involved.

It also recently blocked the 130-year-old St. Andrews Golf Company (a local clubmaking shop) from trademarking its name with Scotland’s Intellectual Property Office.

st-andrews-golf-company

In an article by Edinburgh-based Deadline News, proprietor of St Andrews Golf Company, Ewen Glen, called the Links Trust’s position, “outrageous.”

“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.

“[The trustees] are pretending to be the only legitimate custodians and seem to want to play God with the name of St Andrews.”

“We have been told by the trust they will take us all the way legally…and they have made it clear they will spend as much as it takes to knock our company out of this battle.”

The article also quoted a spokesman for the Links Trust, who said:

“The trustees view it as their duty to reduce the danger of misrepresentation and to nurture what the name symbolises around the world.

“A number of individuals and businesses, both in Scotland and beyond, were using our intellectual property without permission and, in order to protect our commercial interests, we began a programme of trademark and brand protection.”

What do you think?

Should the Links Trust have total intellectual control over the words, “St. Andrews Links” or “St. Andrews Golf?”

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Roger Stewart March 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm

It puzzles me how any individual or organization could claim ownership of a particular name.

2 Kenneth Wortley March 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm

The St. Andrews Links Trust are usurpers themselves – the University was founded 600 years ago so perhaps the Trust should start paying dues to the school!

3 J Moseley March 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm

In a word, “Nae”

4 Harry March 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm

The clubmaker was in existance and was using the name before the Links Trust came into play. I can understand the issue with a golf course, but not with a separate business.

5 Chris K March 5, 2013 at 4:30 pm

I’m very surprised, and dismayed, that Tom Weiskopf would be a part of what is tantamount to hijacking the St Andrews name within Scotland. What a shame!

6 Jim March 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm

There is only one St. Andrews and any miss use of the name should be damned

7 Shawn Dean March 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Seems to me if a company has used that name for 130 years that a statute of limitations for bringing a complaint should have well passed but I am not an attorney, expert in Scottish law or trademarks… just my humble opinion.

8 Harrison Hine March 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I had a good converstion with Ewen Glen at his shop in St. Andrews in October and I couldn’t believe what he was telling me. It sounds like the boys at the Links Trust are so busy throwing their weight around they don’t care who is stomped on. Just look at how they have ramped up the cost to play their courses. So much so that if you discount the rounds on the Old Course the other courses are down in play. The Castle Course is usually empty! The basic marketing law of supply and demand should wake them up.

9 Harvey Weiner March 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Solve this dispute Beverly Hills style: just call the new club St. Andrews Adjacent.

10 claret dreamer March 5, 2013 at 4:56 pm

i can’t understand how a group of men can decide to assert “intellectual property” to the name of one of the apostles. the town was around long before their grandparent’s grandparents were born and it will be there long after they are part of the sod. what would they expect a golf course in st. andrews to identify itself with? “disney world” and as for the st. andrews golf company….they have been making golf clubs since the time of old tom morris….but i’m sure they have dibs on his name as well.

11 Dr Rob March 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm

It is ludicrous for the Trust to think that they can control the name St. Andrews . On the other hand, I agree that it’s a deliberate move for the Weiskopf group to ride the coattails of the Old Course- pretty sad.

12 Gonzo March 5, 2013 at 5:12 pm

I’m on the club-maker’s side. 130 years in business, and suddenly the bully-boys across the road try this on. Stand up to them Ewan.
A possible solution – why don’t they buy his business. There would be a price a canny Scot couldna say nae to, even with that family heritage, and it may be less than the cost of the legal battle, especially if the Trust loses.
As an aside,I wonder if Ewan Glen is a member of the R&A?

13 Ray March 5, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Two things: 1. Where do they get off calling the course “International” – 2. Why not arrive at a compromise that incorporates the location with the course name. E.g., “The Links at St. Andrews” refers to the town, clearly not the “The Old Course at St. Andrews”.

14 jack Stuart Schmiecher March 5, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Claret Dreamer March 5, 2013 at 4:56 pm
i can’t understand how a group of men can decide to assert “intellectual property” to the name of one of the apostles. the town was around long before their grandparent’s grandparents were born and it will be there long after they are part of the sod. what would they expect a golf course in st. andrews to identify itself with? “disney world” and as for the st. andrews golf company….they have been making golf clubs since the time of old tom morris….but i’m sure they have dibs on his name as well.

Claret dremer, well said the whole matter is all about $$ and the trust is not a trust cause they can’t be trusted! As an American, who married one of the Lovely Scotish woman and having been to St. Andrews and also played many of the Wonderful Scotish Courses around Scotland since 1963, sorry to say it takes an “outsiders” to change things, the hearts, minds? of the trust personall. All Scotland should be “Outraged” at these going on! Scotland is the “sccred” home of Golf and should be kept that way til the end of time, any real Golfer should share that view, unless, of course, there is something else to gain, which again is the case here. Employment seen is not held to the needy of the area but rather doled out to cheaper labor. Any “trust’ that goes against the willl of the people is not a trust and therefore should be disolved of any responsibility of doing anything against the will of the people. I have seen many changes to the St.Andrews area and some have been good, however most have changed the “flavor” ot the Scotish lore that so many look forward to seeing…the people is what makes Scotland, Scotland and their desire should be honored, as welll as their names and namesakes. God Bless Scotland.
jack
Burr Ridge, illinois
USA

15 gary slatter March 5, 2013 at 8:50 pm

I’m on the clubmakers side and also agree that Weiskopf’s course could use the name, if it’s in St. Andrews. The course can also just drop the period after St as Fairmont did.

16 Scottie March 5, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Since the clubmaker and retailer has been there 130 years, he should be in the clear. As for Wieskof, I think he could call it St Andrews something…but International was picked deliberately to mislead. That’s a pity. The only thing the R&A should have absolute control over would be St Andrews followed by “Links”, “Links Trust”, “Golf Links” and “Golf Course” Other than that, they have no reasonable claim. St A is a town, a University, and an area. You cannot patent or restrict everything with St A in it.
However, I’m sure common sense will lose out to lawyers and the courts and it will be a long and protracted battle. I agree with the other comment…”buy out the clubmaker” only if he was agreeable of course, but otherwise leave him alone.

17 Ernie martz March 6, 2013 at 8:51 am

As I recall, a Old Course greens fee receipt was required to purchase my wind resistant golf vest at the St. Andrews golf shop, midwinter 2006. The Old Course St. Andrews Golf Links logo means even more to me than the vest. I thank the Trust for preserving this heirloom for golf and for those fortunate to play there. Although my caddie remarked “the Trust is awash with money.”

18 Latch March 6, 2013 at 10:24 am

Bring on William Wallace and run the Weiskopf contingent out of the country. To hell with them.

19 Are See March 6, 2013 at 1:38 pm

One wonders whether The St. Andrews Links Trust should start paying the Catholic Church for the right to use the name St. Andrews!!! Or perhaps they should sue Scotland for claiming it as their patron Saint without consulting the Trust or even suing Guttenberg for publishing a Bible that wantonly usurped the name of St Andrew for his own selfish reasons.

20 Darryl Anthony March 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Off the mark is the St Andrews Trust. Why the law agreed with their ridiculous claims is beyond me, with respect to copyright. The name (St Andrews) is the name of the town for goodness sake and anyone doing business in or near the town should have the right to incorporate the town’s name into their business name should they so choose.

Just because the golf media often refer to the Old Course at St Andrews as simply ‘St. Andrews’ in the Open Championship rotation of courses, this misnomer should have nothing to do with it. However, if course owners in the area tried to use any of the actual course names operated by the Trust, ie Old Course, New Course, Jubilee, etc, then the Trust should intervene to prevent them from doing so by all means.

Otherwise, back off….in my opinion.

21 Doug Roberts March 7, 2013 at 10:11 am

The Links Trust has always operated within a cloak of secrecy. They allocate teetimes in a very convoluted manner if you actually want a set teetime far in advance for an international traveler. On one hand they give the impression they have an open system but actually try to garner an advance time. Their stance on their name goes hand in hand with their allocation of advanced teetimes…..It smells.

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