US Yale forces Welsh college to change name

January 21, 2000

Yale College in Wrexham, a further education college, is being forced to change its name by its American namesake, Yale University.

The college, named Yale since 1972, submitted after a threat of legal action last March.

Prinicipal Emlyn R. Jones said: "We were more or less accused of potential trademark violation and of passing off Yale College as Yale University.

"The governors felt extremely threatened and intimidated, we were advised by intellectual property lawyers to take a commercial view and avoid costly litigation, if possible."

If governors agree, later this year Yale College will become Yale College of Wrexham and will include "wrexham" in its web address, which is currently

A spokesperson for Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, said: "If there is another academic institution named Yale it raises the strong possibility that some people will wrongly assume a connection to the 300-year-old Yale University."

Mr Jones thinks Yale University might have been looking to protect future interests in e-commerce and e-education.

His staff were amused to discover that Yale University had felt it necessary to be "intimidating" to their college, which has 3,500 full-time students aged 16 to 19 - mainly from the local area - and which does not award degrees. Yale University, by contrast, has over 7,000 members of staff, 10,000 full-time students, and in 1998 held $6.6 billion in endowment assets.

But there is a connection. Yale University is named after benefactor Elihu Yale, who lived and is buried in Wrexham. Yale College took its name from "indigenous association", possibly a derivation of the Welsh name for the area "Ial" or possibly after Elihu Yale himself.

Yale University modelled one of its towers on the Wrexham church where Elihu Yale is buried. It says it discovered its namesake in 1998 when a member of staff visited Wales.

Mr Jones said: "It is a bit sad. Instead of celebrating our commonality we find ourselves in a fractious situation."

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