- 23 Jul 09
A major row is brewing about the use of the name De Dannan – recently announced for a date at the World Fleadh. Alec Finn, one of the founder members of the group, has broken his silence to Hot Press, insisting that he is the registered owner of the name – and therefore that it cannot be used without his agreement.
The dates for the band calling itself “De Dannan” were originally announced in Hot Press – and Finn fired the first salvo in what may yet become a legal battle when a firm of solicitors wrote to Hot Press pointing out that the name is registered by Finn as a business name, pursuant to the Business Names Act 1963. The letter also requested that Hot Press would not exhibit or publish or use the words De Dannan in any advertisement, placard or leaflet or other article, without consultation with Alec Finn.
Now the band’s former bouzouki player has gone public for the first time about his concerns, in an interview with Olaf Tyaransen, for Hot Press.
“This is not De Dannan!” Finn says about the new group. “If you want to go and spend your money on something that is not De Danann, go. But don’t be taken in that you are actually going to see a reunion of old members of De Danann. You aren’t.”
That the new Frankie Gavin-led project is not a reunion is certain. None of the members of the freshly gathered combo were ever members of De Dannan, with the exception of the fiddle virtuoso himself, who co-founded the group with Alec Finn. That said, the planned gig at the Fleadh is different, in that other former members – including Mary Black and Dolores Keane – have agreed to make guest appearances.
Besides, it may yet have to decided legally who actually does have the freedom to use the name. Alec Finn is hoping that it won’t come to that.
“When the band disbanded, I decided it would be a good idea – on someone’s advice, I can’t remember who – that I should copyright the name to stop anyone else using it, even if we weren’t going to use it again,” he says.
Now it turns out that his actions may have been prescient – though, according to legal sources, it is unlikely that the registration is enough in itself to prevent the use of the name by third parties. But Alec is insistent about the moral correctness of his position.
“Frankie does not own the band,” he claims. “He is a frontman for the band for the latter years. He does not own the band. He is a member of the band. Johnny McDonagh couldn’t go away and call himself ‘Johnny McDonagh & De Dannan’, otherwise Frankie would go through the roof, you know.”
From a legal perspective, Finn’s options remain uncertain. He is totally opposed to the use of the De Dannan name for this new project – but what will he do if they simply proceed as planned? One lawyer expressed the view that he might succeed with a case based on the concept of “passing off”, given that the new outfit could be seen to be trading on the goodwill and reputation of the original group, in which Finn was a partner.
“If they decide to actually continue with it, I shall certainly have to do something,” Finn says apprehensively. “Hopefully they’ll have the sense to realise you can’t advertise yourself as something that you’re not. Particularly if someone else’s name is involved in it, you know.
“It’s not a nice thing to have to stop the name being used, but people will go to the concert and see that it’s not what’s written on the tin,” he concludes. “Whoever is calling themselves ‘De Dannan’, and I genuinely don’t know who it is, are not De Dannan, have nothing to do with it, and therefore it cannot be a reunification.”
This one may run and run…