Blake Morgan helped a landlord secretly trademark all the names of a community football club which it wants to evict, provoking a backlash which has forced the firm to hide the details of the partner in charge of the matter.
In a letter to non-league Dulwich Hamlet Football Club this week, Blake Morgan revealed that last October it secretly registered 'Dulwich Hamlet Football Club', 'The Hamlet' and 'DHFC' as trademarks on behalf of its client, investment fund Meadow Residential. Blake Morgan told the club to stop using its own name and demanded that they “no longer be used on any printed literature and any online activity including websites and Twitter”.
The move to cripple the club came four years after Meadow bought DHFC's ground for £5.7m with the intention of building over it. Its plans were scuppered when it lost a court battle with Southwark Council over its proposed £80m residential development. The club was already reeling from a surprise £121,000 bill for back rent which Meadow presented on Monday, and a threat to evict the club if it doesn't pay up within 21 days.
Fans including Danny Baker and Gary Linker have castigated Meadow for its mercenary approach, and Blake Morgan for agreeing to take part in underhand namenapping. "If I were Bill Gates I would buy this despicable company", said Baker, "forcing them from the ground tonight - and their snidey yellow-eyed lawyers - and I would sack the fucking lot of them. Then bulldoze their worthless buildings for more football grounds".
|Blake Morgan (l)
A Hamlets fan who is a solicitor told RollOnFriday that Blake Morgan's tactic was "to make it impossible for the club to function" by registering all available IP. He said it was "more sinister", because although DHFC may have the grounds to overturn the registered marks based on existing goodwill, the landlord and Blake Morgan were "relying on the fact that they have no money to fight a claim, therefore the only purpose can really be to put the club out of business".
In a statement Blake Morgan said, "We were asked to provide advice on trade mark law as part of our client's complex discussions about land at Champion Hill. We're aware commercial conversations between Meadow Partners and Dulwich Hamlet FC are ongoing, but are not party to these and cannot comment further".
DHFC is known for being a forward-thinking club, fundraising for LGBT causes and holding charity games for Syrian refugees. But no longer. ROF's solicitor source said, "Had I been the lawyer receiving that instruction I think within 5 minutes I’d have realised the dubious motives and potential for huge amounts of negative publicity weren’t worth the few £k they got for the work – a pretty silly instruction to take".
The backlash appears to have been so severe that Blake Morgan has removed from its website the profile of the partner whose email address was given on its widely-circulated correspondence with the club.