Up In Arms (and Knuckles) about a Trademark

Having lived in Manhattan for six years, I ‘heart’ NY. I really do, plus I shamelessly own the t-shirt. You all know which one I’m talking about. The iconic white tshirt designed by Milton Glaser and sold on every street corner in Times Square and Penn Station. In terms of classic NYC icons, this image is right up there with the Statue of Liberty and the Twin Towers, and should definately be protected. But from what?

Mr Penix, co-owner of Everyman Espresso, has an I ‘coffee cup’ NY tattooed across his knuckles, and his fist soon became cartoonized and led to the logo for the small shop.  Last month the NY State Department of Economic Development claimed this logo violated federal trademark law and was confusingly similar to I ‘heart’ NY and sent an immediate cease and desist of all usage. They did, sadly in my opinion, but everything bearing the knuckles came down.

In a world where there is a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts on nearly every corner, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a small, individually-owned, perfect cup of coffee shop. Which is why I ‘heart’ Everyman Espresso. I don’t have the shirt, but if they sold them, I would.

Recently Everyman Espresso was hit with a letter from a lawyer responsible for protecting the iconic trademark and an ongoing battle has begun. I understand the need for trademark laws, I appreciate them and like when they are enforced.  Yet this situation frustrates me.

You be the judge, are these confusingly similar logos?

(A brief SEO moment: Charlotte ad agency, shopper marketing agency, marketing agency Charlotte)



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