{lesson} I ♥ NY ® – Does NY State own all icons and letters?

Photo: Ashley Gilbertson for The New York Times
Photo: Ashley Gilbertson for The New York Times


A Cup Is at the Heart of a Trademark Dispute.

I was sad to read  a news story in the NY Times about the State of NY harassing a small business owner even after they removed the logo in question from everything, which can be a very costly endeavor. Frankly, I don’t feel the “I [coffee] NY” tattooed on knuckles bears enough resemblance to Milton Glaser’s iconic I ♥ NY.

According to the article, “Everyman Espresso’s unauthorized and confusingly similar use of the I ♥ NY® logo” violated federal  trademark law and implied “a misleading designation of source, origin, endorsement, sponsorship or approval by the New York State Department of Economic Development of your merchandise.”

Stop the French presses.

Down came the logo from Everyman’s Web site. Down to the basement went the mugs and T-shirts and onesies emblazoned with it. Out went the letter from Everyman’s lawyer, promising, “My client shall cease all use of its mark.”

I believe this is the logo in question.
I believe this is the logo in question.
Orignal I love NY campaign – designed by Milton Glaser

Mr. Penix and his partner Jay Terrana hoped that would be enough. It was not.

Back came the reply from a lawyer for CMG Worldwide, the agency that is kept very busy protecting the trademark of the state’s iconic, oft-ripped-off “I ♥ NY” mark.

“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.

That, in coffee parlance, has left a bitter taste in Mr. Penix’s mouth.

“Basically, it’s extortion,” he said. “It’s also ironic because we are being threatened by the entity that has vowed to grow our New York business.”

Should NY State be allowed to bully small businesses to own icons and letters? and what can we do about it?

The conversation begins here.


added 10/8/13

from Milton Glaser’s official website

Apparently if you are a corporate partner with New York State you can buy into the I ♥ NY Brand.  hmmm. so that’s how it works.


THIS JUST IN…. another case


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