AFTER BRITISH historian David Irving founded Focal Point
Publications as a means of keeping his more important works
in print, and more recently of publishing original works of
history and biography by other authors, the traditional
enemies of free speech resorted increasingly to violent
methods in their attempt to destroy this important
bridgehead into their own stronghold.
FPP sold rights in Mr Irving's biography, Goebbels.
Mastermind of the Third Reich, to the major New York
publishing firm St
Martin's Press, the American consorts of these illiberal
people (primarily the ADL)
started a campaign of terror against the American publisher,
which resulted in SMP repudiating its contracts with the
author and publisher in April 1996.
From: David Irving, Focal Point Publications, London
I have just seen the two letters you print attacking Focal Point Publications in your issue of March 20. You might consider printing the enclosed reply:-
Irving and censorship
Sir, I am appalled by the letters about David Irving and Focal Press (20th March). In our business it is our duty to reject censorship of any kind. We should, as booksellers, be followers of Voltaire: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." The only judge-ment a bookseller has to make is whether a book will sell.
I have no sympathy for Mr Irving's absurd views on the Holocaust, but none of us has any right to stop him holding those views. It is ironic that the same people who would wish to prevent Focal Press from going about their business would be the first people to condemn Rupert Murdoch for censoring Chris Patten. There is no difference.
If the general public wishes to buy books by Mr Irving it has every right to do so&emdash;at this branch of Waterstones anyway.
Perry A Bushell
, April 3, 1998
Freedom of speech
Sir, We were shocked to read the let-ter from Perry Bushell (27th March) defending David Irving and Focal Press, claiming somehow that the selling of his books was upholding freedom of speech. No freedom is ever complete, Mr Bushell. There always has to be a balance of rights and responsibilities.
As booksellers we have a duty to the public not to promote racial hatred and there are good laws that forbid this. It is by the most perverse twist of argument that Mr Bushell plays his Voltairian intellectual games to support the propagation of Holocaust denial, but we would remind him that there is a world of difference between an opinion and a well-proven and substantiated his-torical fact.
There is a voice not heard in this debate and that is the voice of the millions of people who were system-atically hunted down, rounded up, tortured and killed by the Nazis. Mr Bushell might have an opinion very different from the one he now holds if most of his family had been among those murdered.
We have a moral obligation not to promote dangerous lies and pro-paganda. There is only one lesson that the Holocaust can teach us and that is Never Again. It saddens me that at the time when we are all see-ing the disappearance of so many independent radical bookselling colleagues, the only voice from the big chains should be for selling Holocaust denial.
Chris and Richard Farrah-Mills
, April 10, 1998
Freedom of speech
Sir, Like Mr Bushell, I, too, believe in Voltaire but let us distinguish between disapproval of a set of views and specious assertions that lead in a straight line to the incite-ment of ethnic, religious or any other kind of hatred.
Is there anything in Chris Patten's book which foments hatred against the Chinese? If not, please tell us where the irony is that Mr Bushell claims.
No publisher or bookseller should have anything to do with peddling hate or helping to peddle it.
Sir, In the letter from Perry Bushell (27th March) reference was made erroneously to Focal Press. I would like to make it clear to readers that Focal Press, which is an imprint of Butterworth-Heinemann, is in no way connected with David Irving or Focal Point Publications.
16th April 1998
BY FAX AND BY POST
0171 409 7048
Mr David Irving
Dear Mr Irving,
Focal Point Publications
Reed Educational & Professional Publishing Limited ("REPP") is part of the Reed Elsevier plc international publishing group. It is the owner of the Focal Press and Focal imprints, which have been in use since the late 1930's and carry significant goodwill in the book trade.
REPP is the proprietor of three registered trade marks for printed publications (registration numbers 683149, 647218 and 650494) relating to these imprints. Details of these registrations are shown on the enclosed sheets.
We have recently become aware of your use of the trading name: "Focal Point Publication" to publish and promote your books; also, from your internet site, of the use of the name "Focal Point" and of the trade mark "F" in combination with the name Focal Point, for the same purpose.
As a result of these activities, there have been instances of actual confusion between Focal Point and REPP's Focal Press. Letters from booksellers published in "The Bookseller" on 27 March and 3 April 1998, regarding your publications and your promotion of them, have mistakenly referred to your business as "Focal Press". REPP has also had at least one telephone enquiry from a prospective customer asking for details of your books, mistakenly believing Focal Press to be your publishing business.
By applying the name Focal Point and the trade mark "F" to your publications you are infringing REPP's registered trade marks and its common law rights.
REPP does not dispute your right to hold and publish your opinions, but does not want to be associated with such views by the book selling trade and other potential customers. By infringing REPP's trade marks and common law rights in the name Focal and Focal Press, you are creating the misleading impression that we are associated with such views and the resulting confusion is likely to be very damaging to REPP's business.
REPP takes this matter sufficiently seriously to commence High Court legal proceedings against you without further notice if I do not receive from you the undertakings set out below by no later than 4.00 p.m. on Friday 24 April. We are likely to proceed by way of an interlocutory injunction and/or summary judgement.
The undertakings we require are:
REPP's rights in respect of compensation by way of damages or an account of profits are reserved.
Your letter of April 16 has been forwarded to me by my London office, and I shall seek advice on your complaint. I may state in advance however that I have no intention of desisting from using the upper-case Goudy Bold letter F in our logo and, without prejudice to any further advice I may receive, I would point out that we have in the ten years or more of trading as Focal Point Publications never once received any evidence of confusion between our trading name and those (different) names or trademarks to which you claim exclusive title; nor do you appear to have taken parallel action against several other corporate entities with similar names of which we are aware. I can be reached direct by e-mail on Focalp@aol.com until my return to the UK early in May.
[Signed: David Irving]
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Thank you for your email of 18 April, which arrived by fax, eventually. You had my address right, but had spelt my name wrongly. I note what you say about being out of the country, but unfortunately we are advised that we must press on as delay could prejudice our rights to remedy.
However, your email suggested there might be a way we could resolve this - that you continue to use the 'F' logo, but cease the use of Focal Point - perhaps using the 'FPP' abbreviation. It is the use of the word 'Focal' which concerns us, as this is clearly the reason for the confusion which has recently taken place. If we have to pursue our legal remedies, we must go for the whole lot, but we would be prepared to settle on your continuing to use the 'F' but agreeing not to use any name including the word 'Focal'. Each side paying its own costs.
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thank you for your Without Prejudice e-mail. I return to the UK on Monday and will at once consult my legal adviser. I appreciate your proposal, but it would be wrong for me to say that I am confident that we can reach an agreement on that basis. However, I shall be guided in my response next week by what my adviser tells me.
FOCAL POINT PUBLICATIONS
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London, Thursday, May 14, 1998
I can now revert to the subject of your complaint about our use of the F logo and name Focal Point Publications. I am sorry to say that, having taken legal advice yesterday, I can offer no prospect that we will refrain from doing so, as you request. We have been using the Focal Point name since 1981 and our display advertisements have repeatedly appeared in trade publications in this country, for example The Bookseller, displaying that name and Focal Point Publications. Every national newspaper in the country has reviewed books which we publish, also referring to our name as publisher. We have invested time, money, and effort in establishing a good reputation and good will for the name. In all the years of trading we have not experienced one example of confusion between our imprint and your company; we receive book orders via fax, telephone, teleordering, and e-mail, and have never once received an order for your products misdirected to our address. The ISBN system would appear to preclude such confusion in any case. Nor have you referred to us, over the years, any orders for our products which might have been misdirected to your firm. A cursory search of trade directories, company lists and telephone books has disclosed a number of other firms with similar names.
2. If you wish us to abandon our trade name, as requested, we would be prepared to do so only upon payment of suitable compensation to us, which we would assess at not less than £50,000.
3. If it is your intention to apply ex parte for an injunction, as you indicated, please be so good as to bring this letter to the attention of the Court; we shall certainly resist any such application at the inter partes hearing.
FOCAL POINT PUBLICATIONS
To: Ms Jane Moore, Legal Services,