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Developer wins legal battle to use Tin Pan Alley name

Former music shop owner is stripped of trading name after dispute with company behind vast overhaul of Denmark Street

08 December, 2017 — By William McLennan

Henry Scott Irvine. Photo: Gerard McNamara

PROPERTY developers have won the right to trade under the name “Tin Pan Alley” after taking legal action against a former music shop owner who had registered the renowned moniker.

Consolidated Developments, who are behind a vast overhaul of Denmark Street, applied to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), claiming that Andy Cooper, the one-time chairman of the Tin Pan Alley Traders Association, should be stripped of his right to the name.

The street, which was once the centre of London’s music scene, took its nickname from an area of New York City that was packed with publishers and songwriters during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Elton John, the Kinks and the Rolling Stones are among an all-star list of musicians to record on the street.

The IPO sided with the developer’s lawyers, who claimed Mr Cooper was not actively trading under the name, and ordered him to also pay costs of £1,700.

Denmark Street has been at the heart of a long-running battle between independent stores and Consolidated. A petition calling on them to “pre-serve the heritage and integrity of Denmark Street” has amassed nearly 36,000 signatures.

Henry Scott-Irvine, who helped organise the petition and is making a documentary entitled Tin Pan Alley Tales, said: “I can’t believe they have the audacity to believe that they now have the right to this name.

“The fact that a court has upheld this shows they know nothing about the lineage of this name. Tin Pan Alley was used in New York to describe the very same style of street and was adopted here by the music publishers, that appear on a blue plaque above 9 Denmark Street.”

Allan James, head of the trademark tribunal at the IPO, revoked Mr Cooper’s rights to the name after agreeing with Consolidated that they had not been used to trade under for at least the past five years.

It was unclear how the developers intend to use Tin Pan Alley. In 2013 they were granted per- mission to knock down a run of build- ings in Denmark Place and construct three buildings between four and seven storeys in height, containing offices, homes, shops and restaurants.

A hotel and 800-seat venue, clad in bronze, is to open in St Giles High Street as part of the project.

Mr Cooper, who ran a shop selling recording equipment until 2014 and whose family had been based there for decades, said he was waiting to speak to his lawyer before he could comment.

Consolidated did not respond to requests for comment. They have previously stated their commitment to “ensuring that this area continues to be at the heart of the British music scene”.

Describing their plans for the area in 2013, they said: “Denmark Place, which is currently an unattractive and under- used back alley, will be re- invigorated to tap into this music heritage and help ensure the on-going vitality of this specialist retail area.”

 

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