Class action: Harvard takes on Havard (Milton Keynes) over rights to name


One is a world-renowned American university. The other is a technical college in a Buckinghamshire town known for having lots of roundabouts.

But now a cross-Atlantic David versus Goliath fight that pits Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, against Havard School in Milton Keynes is being waged at the High Court in London.

The UK-based Havard, spelled without the “r”, offers students the chance to study at what it describes as a “seat of wisdom” and points students towards the bright lights of Milton Keynes: a Wetherspoons pub, WHSmith, and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

“The atmosphere generally nibbles and recommends itself to our noble senses,” Havard says of its environs. It adds that the “posh and aesthetic beauty of houses” in Milton Keynes attracts students hoping to live “on the outskirts of London”. Havard is actually more than an hour away from the capital.

But the American insitution is so concerned at the threat posed by Havard School of Management and Technology that it has launched a High Court action for alleged trade-mark infringement.

Harvard, which was this year ranked the world’s No 2 university behind MIT, is seeking an injunction and damages against the school – which caters to many overseas students. A preliminary hearing before Mr Justice Roth heard Ashton Chantrielle, for Harvard, argue there was “evidence of confusion” between the US institution, a household name, and the lesser-known, but similarly named, Havard School.

The management of Havard School, in its defence to the action, will contend “that its acts do not constitute trade-mark infringement” and has issued a counter-claim.

A full hearing has been scheduled for February next year, when Mr Justice Roth said it would need to be decided whether Harvard had “suffered any loss or damage” from the activities of Havard.

Havard says it is the home of “legends and champions” but is yet to publish a full list of its alumni. Nobody from the school was available for comment.