More than a name at stake for battling news groups

Associated Newspapers and Express Newspapers must wait to hear the outcome of their “what’s in a name” High Court battle.

Associated has asked the court to block the launch of the new paper, the Evening Mail, which would provide Londoners with a free alternative to its own late paper, the Evening Standard. Now Mr Justice Laddie has reserved judgment and will give his decision in writing later. No date has been fixed.

Associated has asked the judge to rule that the use of the name “the Evening Mail” would constitute breach of its own trademark, which it claims covers the words “the Mail” on their own, passing off, or misrepresentation.

It claims that the simple phrase “the Mail” was commonly used by the public to indicate his client’s two papers, the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday.

Countering that claim, Paul Ashford, group editorial director for Northern & Shell, owner of Express Newspapers, told the court it wanted a newspaper to challenge the Evening Standard and Metro, which are published by Associated.

He said the Standard was “too national in its bias and there was a need for a more central London voice”.

As for Metro, he said it was “a competent, very neutral free morning newspaper, more for commuters than Londoners”.

Turning to the choice of name for the new paper, he said: “One option we wanted was to have a name that looked like a national newspaper and that is why we chose the Evening Mail.”

He said “Evening News” would have been a very good title, but that was already owned by Associated. “Trigger” words had been looked for and among his top 10 trigger words were Express, Mail, Times, News, Guardian, Telegraph and Mirror.

He said the title for the new newspaper “had to have a modern feel and not an old-fashioned one”.

Ashford told the judge the final title had not yet been chosen and that Evening Express had not been totally excluded. However, he said they did not want people to think that it was merely a different edition of the Daily Express.

“We have not committed as yet,” he said, but admitted that in interviews with Press Gazette the only title used to describe the new paper had been the Evening Mail. He said that name had also been used in a television interview given by Nick Ferrari, who is to edit the paper.

Under cross-examination by Simon Thorley QC, counsel for Associated, Ashford said: “Any link with Associated or its product could not be further from our minds.”

He told the judge that when looking at the Daily Mail and the Associated group there was a “social agenda of ‘I’m all right Jack’, a slightly little-England feel, an old-fashioned feel which harked back to the Fifties and right-wing politics that went with it”, and they wanted to put clear blue water between the Daily Express and the Daily Mail. It was not something they would want to be associated with.

Ashford said the new newspaper would have no social agenda and would not exist to be an opinion leader but to be a service to Londoners, to give them their news and entertainment, not to lead them like national papers.

By Roger Pearson

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