This 1960 court case revolved around the right of teachers of the Alexander Technique who were no longer teaching at Ashley Place to use the name ‘Alexander Technique’.
In July 1958 the plaintiffs
Beaumont Alexander, Ivy Lilian Ada Johnson, John Graham Vicary, and Practitioners of the F. M. Alexander Technique Ltd.
issued a writ against
Ellen Avery Margaret Goldie, Janet Irene Stewart, Walter Hadrian Marshall Carrington, John Skinner and The Use of the Self Ltd. (the defendants)
When F. M. Alexander died in October 1955, the teachers who worked at his home and teaching practice, 16 Ashley Place, London SW1, continued to teach there (privately and running the teacher training course) until F. M. Alexander’s Estate was wound up, and this had been agreed by the Estate. The teachers were Margaret Goldie, Irene Stewart, Walter Carrington, and John Skinner (the defendants). Beaumont Alexander – F. M. Alexander’s youngest brother, as co-executor and trustee to Alexander’s will and estate – brought in Patrick Macdonald to take over the running of Ashley Place when the defendants left Ashley Place in April 1956. (Ivy Lilian Ada Johnson, Beaumont Alexander’s wife, had by the time of the court action become a trustee of the Estate.) The Defendants set up a teaching practice in 5 Bainbridge Street, WC1, and used the name ‘The Use of the Self Ltd.’ as a business name. A settlement between Beaumont Alexander and the Defendants regarding the transfer of the business was agreed by a contract of 16 October 1957.
The 1958 Writ
The Writ issued against the Defendants. The two fundamental issues were ‘passing-off’ and breach of contract.
The case was heard in the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, 28 January 1960. By the time the case came to court the allegations of ‘passing-off’ had been dropped. The alleged breach of contract consisted of the Defendants
- using a letter-heading with ‘F. Matthias Alexander Technique’ in the top left hand corner with the Defendants’ names underneath.
- using a brass plate at the entrance stating ‘F. Matthias Alexander Technique’.
The Justice accepted the evidence by the Defendants that by using the name ‘F. Matthias Alexander Technique’ they were merely describing the subject matter of their business and did not intend it to describe a business name which could be confused in the mind of the general public with the name of the business at 16, Ashley Place.
The Justice dismissed the action with costs.
The only later reports of the case concerns Patrick Macdonald’s involvement. Max Alexander gave a lecture to NASTAT (now AmSAT) in which he mentioned the case and Patrick Macdonald’s support for Beaumont Alexander.
In STATNews (and later reported in Direction vol. 2, no. 5, insert p. 12) Shoshana Kaminitz wrote that she had been told that Patrick Macdonald was instrumental in bringing the court case to an end. Jean Fischer contested this view, pointing out that Macdonald had signed an affidavit in 1958, supporting Beaumont Alexander in his action against the defendants and stating, among other things, that he had instructed three people go make inquires under assumed names to the teaching practice run by the defendants in order to establish that they were using the name of F. Matthias Alexander. In addition there are several letters from Macdonald to the solictior of the defendants which demonstrates his committed involvement.  Shoshana Kaminitz replied, suggesting that Macdonald was not practical and competent regarding mangement and administration, and that Macdonald’s relationship with Beaumont Alexander was not easy. 
Jeroen Staring provides a brief summary of the case in his Frederick Matthias Alexander 1869–1955.
Various papers relating to the case are with the Walter Carrington Archives and the Ethel Webb & John Skinner Collection (now with Jean M. O. Fischer).