New College sends cease-and-desist to Bard College over ‘Alt New College’ effort

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'Our client views its intellectual property rights as one of its most vital assets.'

New College of Florida leaders have sent a cease-and-desist letter to an online effort featuring ex-professors who left the institution.

The legal move comes weeks after Bard College launched Alt New College, an “online institute to support the academic freedom of faculty and students following the hostile takeover of New College of Florida.”

The website has promoted lectures by former professors who left the school after Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed a number of new trustees, who fired members of the prior administration, and brought on former Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran as Interim President instead.

Now, Corcoran’s administration said the effort aims to co-opt a decades-old reputation built by New College to the detriment of the Sarasota-based public university.

“Imitation is the best form of flattery,” said New College spokesperson Nate March, “but in this case it’s highly illegal.”

The cease-and-desist letter from Miami law firm Malloy & Malloy to Bard College said the name “New College” is the intellectual property of New College of Florida.

“New College uses its marks in connection with a broad range of higher educational services and related goods and service,” wrote attorney John Cyril Malloy.

“Our client views its intellectual property rights as one of its most vital assets which must be vigorously protected. Unless we receive complete and immediate compliance with the demands set forth herein, we have been instructed to take all necessary steps to enforce New College’s rights.”

The letter points to a number of links and marketing images from Alt New College, including a website button leading to “New College News” and another saying the new effort is “support the academic freedom & founding vision of New College.”

All of this could contribute to market confusion, Malloy wrote.

“There can be no dispute that these actions have been willful, and were carried out in an effort to trade off the goodwill associated with New College’s marks and/or to cause confusion,” the letter states.

“Therefore, statutory damages, triple damages, punitive damages, a disgorgement of profits, and attorneys’ fees are inescapable under these circumstances. If it becomes necessary to institute legal action to protect our client’s rights, all persons responsible for the above-referenced activities will be sued.”

The letter demands Bard College stop utilizing the name New College, including in the “Alt New College” name of the institution website. It also demands control of the web domain to be transferred to the school. It calls for a response by Oct. 6.

Alt New College held its first formal event this week with a Sept. 18 webcast with Judith Butler, a University of California-Berkeley professor, on attacks against Gender Studies, which were recently dropped from New College’s curriculum per a new state law. Former New College Student Senate President Libby Harrity, now a student at Hampshire College, was the introducing speaker. She notably dropped out of New College as part of a deal to avoid battery charges for spitting on a trustee.

In promoting the event, Bard College made note of the last year of headlines at New College.

“New College Florida is now situated at the frontline of America’s autocratic attempt, and gender is at the center of the aspiring autocrats’ political agenda,” said Masha Gassen, a visiting writer with Bard College, in a statement promoting the webcast.

Of note, the logo for the institute is an empty set, “[ ]” or two brackets with nothing between them. That for years was the unofficial mascot of New College before the school recently adopted the Mighty Banyans instead.

The Alt New College platform also has promoted upcoming events with author Neil Gaiman and civil rights activist Maya Wiley, both of whom gave commencement speeches as part of an alternative graduation event for New College students in the spring.

2023 09 28 Cease and Desist Letter Bard College by Jacob Ogles on Scribd

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Joe

    September 29, 2023 at 4:40 pm

    New College leaders, filling their diapers: “Waaaaaaahhh”

  • John Lentini

    September 29, 2023 at 5:14 pm

    I wonder how New College of Oxford managed to survive for 60 years after New College of Florida co-opted their name and educational model. I for one am not the least bit confused regarding Alt-New College. It practically says NOT New College.

    • Grant A. Balfour

      September 29, 2023 at 6:40 pm

      But that’s the *old* New College, not the *new* New College.

      Interesting tidbit is that the letter gets the Latin wrong, because it’s referencing the old new New College motto, not the new new New College motto (which wasn’t registered when the school changed it before the new new New College takeover).

  • Michael K

    September 29, 2023 at 5:17 pm

    Remind me again: Richard Corcoran is sucking up close to $ 1 million (total) from Florida taxpayers for the hostile takeover of a respected liberal arts college?

  • Paul

    September 29, 2023 at 9:44 pm

    I asked ChatGPT to respond:

    Dear Mr. Malloy,

    We are in receipt of your letter dated September 28, 2023, alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition on behalf of your client, New College of Florida (“New College”). After careful review, we strongly disagree with the assertions made in your letter.

    Firstly, it is important to clarify that the terms “New College” and “Alt New College” are generic and descriptive, and therefore, not subject to trademark protection in the manner you suggest. The use of such terms in the educational sector is widespread and not exclusive to New College of Florida.

    Secondly, we find no evidence to support your claim that our use of the term “Alt New College” has caused or is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception as to the affiliation, connection, or association with New College. Our branding, marketing materials, and overall presentation are distinct and do not in any way imply an association with New College of Florida.

    Your letter also makes broad claims about willful infringement and demands for statutory damages, triple damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees. We find these claims to be without merit and an attempt to intimidate.

    Given the above points, we have no intention of ceasing the use of our name, withdrawing any materials, or complying with the other demands outlined in your letter. We view this matter as an attempt to stifle legitimate competition and choice in the educational sector.

    We strongly suggest that you review the facts and the law more carefully. If you choose to proceed with legal action, we are prepared to defend our position vigorously. We hope, however, that it does not come to that and that your client will reconsider its stance.

    Please consider this letter as our final response to your allegations. We retain all rights and remedies available to us under the law, all of which are expressly reserved.

    • Stephen Binnette

      October 1, 2023 at 12:17 am

      The utilization of a LLM software application, with unskilled interrogators should not be viewed as constituting any valid scientific, legal or medical judgement, nor of any valid social opinion.

  • TJC

    September 30, 2023 at 1:29 pm

    So, according to Corcoran’s administration, this Alt New College is threatening the ‘decades-old reputation built by New College.’
    That decades-old reputation was destroyed the day DeSantis appointed Corcoran to turn New College into a conservative political institution like Hillsdale College. They can’t take credit for a reputation they have erased, but they can take credit for this: New College has a new reputation now — as a culture war trophy that was once an enviable institution of higher learning.

    • My Take

      September 30, 2023 at 6:37 pm

      Taking credit for building what they are destroying

  • Gnu College Of Nazism

    September 30, 2023 at 8:16 pm

    Bard will consume DeSantis’ Newt College & build a shed there.

  • My Take

    October 1, 2023 at 12:52 am

    “Old” New College = Occupied New College
    Alt New College = New College in Exile

    • Rhett Jackson

      October 1, 2023 at 11:29 am

      Oh, I like “New College in Exile.” Opens the mind to the possible return of the exiles. That New College keeps the name New College is really the fraud here. It should be “Different College” or “Sports College” or “Boys School.”

      • Peter_frigate

        October 1, 2023 at 11:32 am

        Perhaps original new college.

  • My Take

    October 1, 2023 at 2:23 am

    When Rhonda comes home defeated next January, or March, or November, will any college or university be safe?

  • Sonja Fitch

    October 1, 2023 at 3:25 am

    One of the finer institutions DESTROYED by bs Desantis! Corcoran you AINT no better! Get out !

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    October 1, 2023 at 7:38 am

    This says all we need to know about the former New College culture
    “ . Former New College Student Senate President Libby Harrity, now a student at Hampshire College, was the introducing speaker. She notably dropped out of New College as part of a deal to avoid battery charges for spitting on a trustee.”

    • My Take

      October 1, 2023 at 9:11 am

      Yeah, I guess that seems kind of wimpy to the GOPer gunfondlers.

  • Peter_frigate

    October 1, 2023 at 11:30 am

    Last week, new college had to be taken over, its president fired, and faculty and students driven out because the college was a failure at every level. This week, it has a great reputation and anyone who tries to share in it will be punished. Lying comes so easy when money is involved.

    • Amer

      October 12, 2023 at 2:46 pm

      I honestly hope you were being sarcastic. Right?

      New College was fine as it was, as a highly respected liberal arts college. What DeSantis and his sycophants have done is fire or force out the faculty responsible for its great reputation. The case and desist letter claiming that same faculty is using the name alt new college because of its reputation, the very reputation the exiled faculty had build up, is silly and everyone sees through it. GOP uses the same tactic everywhere it seems. Just as they blame Dems for their own ineptitude, and try to claim bills Dems passed as their own.. GOP Overtaken New College is doing the same with the reputation the faculty they fired built up.. Party without ideas, what can it do but steal others work and pass it as their own? Shameful.

Comments are closed.


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