Public Backlash Leads Tulsa Park To Stop Bullying Coffee Shop Over Trademark

from the going-public dept

A good public outcry and backlash can lead to many, many good things. We see it here at Techdirt all the time, particularly when it comes to aggressive bullying episodes over intellectual property. Some person or company will try to play IP bully against some victim, the public gets wind of it and throws a fit, and suddenly the necessity over the IP action goes away. Retailers, manufacturers, breweries: public outcry is a great way to end ridiculous legal actions.

A recent example of this comes out of Tulsa, OK, where a riverside park of all places decided it had to sue a coffee shop over a similar, if fairly generic, name. Gathering Place is a park in Tulsa, a... place... where people... you know... gather. The Gathering Place is a coffee shop in Shawnee, 90 miles from Tulsa, where people get coffee and, I imagine, occasionally gather. But despite any gathering similarities, coffee shops are not parks and 90 miles is a fairly long way away. Which makes a lawsuit over trademark infringement brought by the park very, very strange.

The lawsuit alleged the coffee shop "intentionally mimicked" the name of the park to unjustly benefit from its fame.

"This couldn’t be further from the truth," the coffee shop owners countered in a Facebook post. "It is hard to think that someone would actually be confused between a world renowned outdoor play space and a small local coffee shop located an hour and a half apart."

It appears the public very much agrees with the coffee shop owners, as many went online to register their displeasure over the lawsuit. Several thousand people also signed an online petition backing The Gathering Place.

Hundreds lashed out at the park on Facebook after the lawsuit was filed, with some vowing never to go there again.

"Shouldn't be suing PEOPLE. Especially mom and pop businesses. SHAME SHAME SHAME!" one critic commented on the park's Facebook page.

The result was fairly swift. Suddenly, both sides came together and entered one of those annoying settlements I complain about so much, where nobody gets to learn any details of the terms. What has been made public is that The Gathering Place has gotten a license from the park, Gathering Place, to continue to use its name. As the source post notes, often times these licensing arrangements come with some sort of money changing hands, but what that amount might be is anyone's guess. Given the size of The Gathering Place, you have to imagine it is fairly minimal.

Instead, the park probably witnessed the backlash and decided a quick exit is what was needed. Both to limit the legal costs of litigation as well as the cost to the reputation of the park due to the backlash by the public. Either way, I very much doubt this settlement would have been reached so quickly without the public outcry.

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Filed Under: gathering place, public backlash, shawnee, trademark, tulsa
Companies: gathering place


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2021 @ 8:29pm

    But they're both in the market of (checks notes) gathering up humans. Infingement!

    /s, just in case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Pixelation, 13 Oct 2021 @ 10:51pm

    "Public Backlash Leads Tusla Park To Stop Bullying Coffee Shop..."

    That and the fact that Tulsa is spelled differently, which would cause problems in court as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Christenson, 13 Oct 2021 @ 11:55pm

    s/Tusla/Tulsa/

    Typo monster bites!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Oct 2021 @ 2:48am

    The park employees are involved in an overtime scam.

    Basically "sue XYZ" claim hundreds of hours of overtime/ expenses you never did 'investigating' the matter.....

    then drop case

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Bobvious, 14 Oct 2021 @ 3:26am

    Re: s/Tusla/Tulsa/

    Tusla is where you end up when you drive to Tulsa in a Tesla.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Oct 2021 @ 5:18am

    Salsa...Seltzer
    (i had to)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Bobvious, 14 Oct 2021 @ 5:44am

    Only 90 Miles from Tulsa

    Down in
    Shawnee
    There is a place where they gather in a small
    coffee shop

    But it's not near
    that business
    found in a riverside park that calls itself
    a similar name

    Oh it's only 90-ish miles from Tulsa
    Only an hour and half's drive away

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 14 Oct 2021 @ 10:04am

    Re:

    Ew, my fault, and thank you for pointing out the typo. I fixed it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Oct 2021 @ 11:42am

    My family lives right down the street from that park. Its really beautiful.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Oct 2021 @ 1:06pm

    Re:

    Cool?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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