High Court grants temporary injunction in dispute over ‘My Options’ websites
The Health Service Executive (HSE) has secured a temporary High Court injunction against a man who has allegedly set up a misleading website that is confusingly similar to the HSE’s crisis pregnancy freephone service, “My Options”.
The temporary injunction was granted today by Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds against Eamonn Murphy, who the HSE claims has established a website passing itself off as the service known as “My Options”.
Mr Murphy denies any wrongdoing and had opposed the granting of an injunction that would result in him having to suspend the website located at www.myoptions.website.
The order prevents 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” until further order of the court.
The judge said she was making the order in order to deal with the “immediate” and “clear confusion” that was being caused by the use of the term “my options” in website names.
Representing himself, Mr Murphy had sought an adjournment in order to obtain lawyers to contest the injunction application.
However, as he was not prepared to offer the court an undertaking not to suspend the operation of www.myoptions.website until the case has been determined, the judge said she was putting a temporary order in place until both sides had put their cases before the court.
The HSE, represented by Jonathan Newman SC and Michael Binchy BL, claims Mr Muphy is inappropriately offering pregnancy scans, is trying to convince women not to go ahead with abortions, or berating those who have chosen to undergo a termination.
Mr Murphy allegedly registered that website’s domain name days after the Minister for Health publicly announced that the HSE’s service would be called “My Options”, which the HSE claims is not a coincidence, is leading to substantial confusion, and is damaging the goodwill and reputation of the HSE’s service.
In December, 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 says that, in recent weeks, it became aware of a website called www.myoptions.website which contains Mr Murphy’s phone number and promises a free ultrasound. The HSE says that women are finding the defendant when they intend to find the service operated by the HSE.
The website is also giving the impression that Mr Murphy is offering services in connection with the HSE, or that objective counselling and information services are being provided, it is claimed.
The HSE says it asked him to remove or rename the website, but he has failed to do so.
In court, Mr Muphy denied any wrongdoing and said it was the HSE who was causing the confusion. He told the court that he wished to bring a counteraction against the HSE over the use of “My Options” and the service it offers.
He also told the court that he intends to take an action over the HSE’s myoptions.ie service because it was putting women’s lives in “real danger”.
He said that myoptions.website had been extremely successful and had hits from persons all over the world. He said that the website is part of services he has provided for pregnant women for many years under many names, including the Women’s Counselling Network or the Good Counselling Network.
Mr Murphy claimed that his service saved the lives of woman and babies, and that the service being operated by the HSE is flawed and had resulted in “the unlawful killing of babies”.
In addition, he said that he had made a criminal complaint about the service, Health Minister Simon Harris and doctors to the gardaí.
Ms Justice Reynolds, noting that the myoptions.website domain name was registered by Mr Murphy two days after the Minister for Health had announced that the service would be called “My Options”, said she was satisfied to make the temporary order to take the urgency out of the matter.
Mr Murphy, the judge said, was free to continue to operate the lawful service he has been providing since the 1990s. Nobody was stopping him from doing that, she said. However any breach of that order the judge said would have serious consequences, she added.
The matter will return before the court in two weeks’ time.
Aodhan O Faolain, Ireland International News Agency Ltd.