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Will the real Sydney Sentinel please stand up?

Logo for The Sydney Sentinel news publication, and The Sydney Sentinel satire organisation. Photo: The Sydney Sentinel and The Sydney Sentinel.

By ERIN MODARO

The battle over who owns the rights to call themselves “the Sydney Sentinel” has intensified with a now closed local Sydney paper The Sydney Sentinel seeking to clear the air over why his website bears the same name as an established satire publication.

Peter Hackney founded his own Sydney Sentinel in September 2020 and says that “no other publication called the Sydney Sentinel existed” at the time he founded his company.

A satire publication also named The Sydney Sentinel, which publishes parody in a similar style to other satiric news organisations such as The Betoota Advocate and The Onion, was founded and run by Sydney local Robert Cartlidge in 2016.

Cartlidge said to City Hub that he began a social media presence and website “way back in 2016”.

Social media and webpage data reveals the satire publication was regularly posting content on Facebook from 2016 to 2019. The page was never removed from the social media platform.

Hackney said he only found out about the satire publication after he founded his company.

“After launching the Sentinel in September 2020, I was made aware that there was formerly an online satire publication called the Sydney Sentinel” Hackney said.

“I found that the sole remnant of this ‘publication’ was a Facebook page that had not been updated since 16 December, 2019 (i.e. for ten months.) Furthermore, their website (http://thesydneysentinel.com/) was defunct. Visiting the page led to a ‘page not found’ message.”

A search of The Sydney Sentinel founded by Cartlidge reveals a gap in Facebook posts from December 2019 to May 2022. The satire page has resumed regularly posting content from May 2022 to present.

The satire page boasts a following of over 28,000 people. Hackney’s version built up a following of 3,000 followers on Facebook.

Sydney Sentinel not currently trademarked in Australian registry

Hackney also says he “purchased and trademarked the name” and is “the legal owner of this name”.

The trademarked name Sydney Sentinel is currently not trademarked by Hackney, nor any other party, in the Trademark Registry of Australia.

Hackney does own the domain name to www.sydneysentinel.com.au. Cartlidge owns the similar domain name of www.thesydneysentinel.com.

Hackney holds the business names ‘The Sydney Sentinel’ and ‘Sydney Sentinel’, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

According to the Australian Government business website explaining the difference between business names and trademarks, “registering a business name doesn’t give you exclusive rights to it”.

Cartlidge responded to Hackney’s claims that he was unaware there was already a Sydney Sentinel in the market at the time of founding his newspaper stating:

“If the bloke claims to be a journalist, while also saying he was unaware that I’ve been publishing as The Sydney Sentinel since 2016 – he’s admitting that he can’t perform a basic Google search,” Cartlidge said.

“He also claims to own the trademark for The Sydney Sentinel (which he doesn’t according to IP Australia).”

“My lawyer confirmed he never owned it.”

Sydney Sentinel news publication closing down

The Sydney Sentinel news publication confirmed to City Hub that they have ceased operations.

Hackney said to City Hub that closing the Sydney Sentinel publication was “bittersweet”, and that it is “time for me to do something different”.

“The Sentinel has been a great ride and over the past couple of years, we’ve published over 1,000 original stories on all manner of topics. It’s been a privilege for us to speak to people from all walks of life in our stories” Hackney said.

Meanwhile the original Sydney Sentinel continues to churn out satirical posts with zingers like: “Earth Hour pissed at Vivid’s 552 hours of turning every fucking light on.” And “Petrol sniffers forced to cut costs and switch to cocaine!”

Cartlidge told the City Hub, “I owe Peter Hackney no ill will. I am pleased his venture flopped. I just wished he’d called his website ‘the Chaser’.”

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