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Emlyn Jones, principal, Yale College, Wrexham
"Our chair of governors bypassed the lawyers"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 18 January, 2000, 20:04 GMT
Transatlantic battle over college names

Yale College, Wrexham Yale College has been forced to change its name


A college in north Wales has been forced to change its name because of a threat of legal action from its namesake - Yale University in America.

The Ivy League institution accused Yale Sixth Form College, Wrexham, of trying to pass itself off as part of the famous university.

The Welsh college strenuously denied the claims.

However, college principal Emlyn Jones said he accepted there could be "some confusion" and, as the college could not afford the cost of a lawsuit, a compromise had been agreed.

"Shocked and intimidated"

Mr Jones said the board of governors felt "extremely shocked, threatened and intimidated" by the possibility of legal action.

"The basis of the claim implied breach of trade mark and 'passing-off' which was preposterous, really," he said.

"Our chair of governors bypassed the lawyers and we dealt with Yale University directly.

"After nine months of negotiations, we have reached an agreement," said Mr Jones.

From now on, the sixth form college will be known as 'Coleg Ial' or 'Yale College in Wrexham'.

The Wrexham college derives its name from the Welsh root 'Ial' which is used in many local place names.

Wealthy benefactor

The problem is also due in part to an historical link between the town of Wrexham and the university in Connecticut.

The American University was founded with help from a wealthy benefactor, Elihu Yale, who is buried in north Wales.

The Boston-born son of Welsh immigrants, Elihu Yale became the High Sheriff of Denbighshire in 1704, and was later buried in the graveyard at St Giles parish church in Wrexham.

A central tower at Yale University's campus is a copy of the spire of the medieval Welsh church.

The north Wales town attracts tourists from the United States who are interested in the link with the famous university.

Emlyn Jones believed the legal threats could have been the result of the growth of the internet.

"We have been forced to change our internet domain name - one can understand they are being mindful of the accelerating changes that are coming about with the internet," said Mr Jones.

"I hope we can look forward to an improved relationship between our institutions in future," he added
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