HSE action over My Options crisis pregnancy service resolved

Anti-abortion activist Eamonn Murphy told court he consented to permanent injunction against him

A file photograph of Eamonn Murphy at the Four Courts. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

A file photograph of Eamonn Murphy at the Four Courts. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The Health Services Executive’s High Court action over a website it claimed was confusingly similar to its crisis pregnancy service ‘MyOptions’ has been resolved.

The HSE brought proceedings against Eamonn Murphy, an unsuccessful candidate in the recent European elections, who it claimed established a website passing off the ‘MyOptions’ service.

Earlier this year the HSE obtained a temporary injunction preventing Mr Murphy, or anyone under his control, from using a website he allegedly registered last month called www.myoptions.website, or any other variation of a website using the term ‘my options’.

When the matter came before the High Court on Wednesday, Michael Binchy BL for the HSE said the matter had been resolved.

Counsel said Mr Murphy had consented to the making of a permanent injunction in terms including that the defendant is restrained from using the sign “My Options” or any other sign confusingly similar to the HSE’s mark “My Options” in regards to a pregnancy counselling service.

The injunction also restrains Mr Murphy from using the www.myoptions.website domain name and any other variants of the domain name.

It was also agreed that the matter be adjourned generally with liberty to re-enter, with no order for costs, counsel added.

Mr Murphy, who had represented himself in the proceedings, told the court he was consenting to the permanent injunction being made against him.

Ms Justice Reynolds granted the injunction and adjourned the matter generally. The Judge also vacated the hearing of the trial which was set down for July.

The HSE in its action had claimed Mr Murphy was inappropriately offering pregnancy scans, trying to convince women not to go ahead with abortions, or berating those who have chosen to undergo a termination.

Mr Murphy with an address at Finglas Road, Dublin 11, allegedly registered a website’s domain name days after the Minister for Health publicly announced that the HSE’s service would be called ‘my options’.

The HSE claimed Mr Murphy’s actions were not a coincidence, and lead to substantial confusion and is damaging the goodwill and reputation of the HSE’s service.

Last year the HSE secured the contract to run the freephone information and confidential counselling service, which is the first point of contact between it and the public.

Its website www.myoptions.ie went live late last year, and the phone service commenced in January.

The HSE brought proceedings against Mr Murphy after it became aware of a website called www.myoptions.website which contained Mr Murphy’s phone number and promised a free ultrasound.

The HSE claimed that women are finding the defendant online when they intended to find the service operated by the HSE.

The website gave the impression that Mr Murphy was offering services in connection with the HSE, or that objective counselling and information services are being provided, it was claimed.

Mr Murphy had previously denied any wrongdoing and said it was the HSE which was causing the confusion. He also told the court he wished to contest the HSE application’s to continue the injunction.