New York Continues Its Trademark Bullying Ways: Threatens Coffee Shop With Bogus Threats
from the i-hate-ny-trademark-bullying dept
The latest in NY's over-aggressive trademark bullying comes courtesy of the NY Times, which reports that CMG Worldwide, the agency that NY uses to "police" its trademark, sent a legal nastygram to NYC coffee shop Everyman Espresso. Apparently, one of the co-owners of the shop, Sam Penix, had "I [coffee cup icon] N Y" tattooed across his fingers, as seen below:
Photo from jkwoo
Everyman Espresso's owners decided to fold, telling CMG that it would "cease all use of its mark." You would think that should be enough, but because NY state is positively obnoxious, CMG sent back a letter demanding licensing fees:
“We expect that any entity that infringes on the rights of our client compensate it for unauthorized use,” the lawyer, Clare Neumann, wrote on May 20, requesting “an accounting of all gross revenues generated during the period when the I ♥ NY® Trademark was used” to help her set the appropriate penalty.Penix rightfully points out that this feels like extortion, and it's doubly ridiculous because the entity threatening his coffee shop is the Empire State Department for Economic Development, who is basically trying to extract money from a popular coffee shop, while getting it to stop promoting NY.
The lawyer representing NY claimed that trademark regulations "prohibit companies from using any part of a trademark." But that's flat out untrue. There are all sorts of situations where you can use a trademark, especially if there's no likelihood of confusion (which is absolutely the case here). If NY argued dilution, there might be a case, but I'd love to see how this harms NY and its mark in any way. Because it doesn't.
Coincidentally, I'll be in NYC next week, staying blocks from Everyman Espresso. I don't even drink coffee, but feel like stopping by to support the store, just because trademark bullies suck.