‘Riverdance’ team seeks to stamp out ‘tribute’ tour

Riverdance founders will tomorrow ask the High Court to restrain a music promoter from staging “illicit, unauthorised” Riverdance shows throughout Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott yesterday declined to grant Moya Doherty and John McColgan’s Riverdance Ltd and Abhann Productions Ltd an interim injunction restraining Michael Carr and his company, Ceol Chiarraí Teoranta, from taking any further steps to advertise and sell tickets to promote his shows.

He granted the two complainants short service to ask the court tomorrow, having heard both parties, whether it was appropriate to grant interlocutory injunctions.

“In fairness, the defendants should be entitled to come to court with an affidavit setting out whatever opposition and defence they say they have to these proceedings,” said Judge McDermott.

Barrister Brian Kennelly told the court both complainants were asking the court as a matter of urgency for interim injunctions restraining Mr Carr, of Balconrey, Co Kerry, and his company, of Ballybunion, from using the Riverdance name and infringing copyright material.

He said Mr Carr’s agents in all of the named countries were already selling tickets for Riverdance tribute shows while using copyright pictures and images copied directly, “not to say stolen”, from the official website.

Mr Kennelly said the Riverdance companies had been alerted to the proposed shows when a Russian fan contacted one to say how much they were looking forward to the shows in October.

Mr Kennelly said Riverdance Ltd had no plans for shows during October or November in any of these countries and his clients had an overwhelming case for infringement of trademarks, including the word “Riverdance”, which were registered in every EU country.

Unlike other promotions, Riverdance maintained a very powerful reputation and there was no question of it having faded away in recent years, he said. Official shows are running in the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, to Sept 1.

“Since Eurovision in the mid-’90s, Riverdance has continuously toured and been on show somewhere in the world,” said Mr Kennelly. “Riverdance has plans for various future performances and tours, which include Russia in Jun 2014.”

Mr Kennelly said the unofficial tribute promotions were illicit and unauthorised shows simply using the “Riverdance” name. Mr Carr and his company had not been licensed by Riverdance and owned a riverdancetribute.com website.

References by Mr Carr to a “History of Riverdance Tribute having happily touched the hearts of millions all over the world” was an obvious reference to the real Riverdance, he said.

Mr Kennelly said the damage to the official production would be incalculable while, in the event of losing its case in the High Court, it was robust enough to meet an undertaking as to damages to Mr Carr and his company.

Although yesterday’s application was in the absence of Mr Carr and his company, Judge McDermott allowed barrister Paul Anthony McDermott, for Mr Carr, to address the court.

Mr McDermott said the restraints sought were Europe-wide, and the last he had heard of Russia, it was not in the EU.

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