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Holy shirt! NY Times threatens DUMBO biz over logo

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The Old Gray Lady sure is cranky!

Lawyers at The New York Times are threatening to sue a DUMBO shirt-printing business, claiming that the clothing manufacturers have illegally appropriated the trademarked New York Herald Tribune logo — but the owners of Neighborhoodies standing their ground.

“We’re tired of being bullied so we’re not going to take this shirt down,” said Elissa Shevinsky, co-owner of the three-employee shirt shop at Jay and Plymouth streets, which received a “cease-and-desist” letter from the (second) most recognized news source in the country earlier this month.

“[The Times] doesn’t sell the shirt and they’ve never shown interest in the logo.”

The logo in question is that of the newspaper that folded in 1966 — a logo-turned-cult-classic when it was featured on a totally hot T-shirt worn by equally hot Jean Seberg in Jean-Luc Godard’s French New Wave classic, “Breathless.” Neighborhoodies has been remaking and selling the hip yellow top for at least two years, but now the Times lawyers say that their “pending trademark application” gives them the ability to sue for the rights.

“We hereby demand that you immediately stop manufacturing and selling articles of clothing bearing the logo,” Times lawyer Deborah Beshaw wrote in the letter. “[If not], we will have no choice but to pursue all available legal remedies.”

Shevinsky and co-worker Michael DeZayas call the letter another bullying tactic — like the time the National Pork Board forced them to stop selling Alf shirts that read, “Cats: The Other White Meat” — but outside trademark lawyers are calling it foul play, especially since the Times has apparently never used the logo that it now seeks to protect.

“A trademark application in and of itself doesn’t give you the rights to the logo,” said Arthur Jacobs, a Manhattan attorney who specializes in trademark law. “You can’t even enforce your rights as a result of an application until you’ve actually used the logo.”

The Times didn’t return multiple calls for comment.

Neighborhoodies will continue to sell the shirts, but it’ll be hard to get one online — Shevinsky claims that the online store’s server provider took down the design when someone got wind of the Times’ demands.

“Come on down, get one yourself,” Shevinsky said. “We won’t stop selling them.”

Neighborhoodies [26 Jay St. at Plymouth Street in DUMBO, (718) 243-2265].

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Reader Feedback

freddy from slope says:
nothing new here.

wasnt there a case a gainst a bar called the "brooklyn dodgers sports bar" about 70 years ago...

there is a releveant section in:

http://www.examiner.com/x-3926-Business-of-Sports-Examiner~y2010m2d4-Who-Dat-who-is-protecting-Dat-Saints-logo

and in, oh my, the times(hope the legals are on retainer)...:

http://www.nytimes.com/1993/04/09/nyregion/historic-day-bar-dodger-stays-brooklyn-judge-says-among-other-things-that-los.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

methinks the times is gonna pull a big FAIL on this one.

Go a quarter century with nary a use of or reference to a logo... and you have abdicated thse rights.

GO TRIB!
June 23, 2010, 8:24 am
Bob from Brooklyn Heights says:
The Herald-Tribune logo is used every day by the NY Times. The H-T is published in Paris, and also printed and distributed in New York City. I've bought it occasionally at the newsstand in the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn Heights.

The Times has also marketed Herald-Tribune paraphanelia, including a volume of historic front pages which I'd buy in a second if it wasn't priced so high.

To link to the H-T online, and see the logo, try this— http://global.nytimes.com/?iht
June 23, 2010, 8:58 am
D from Park Slope says:
Can someone explain this further?
“A trademark application in and of itself doesn’t give you the rights to the logo,” said Arthur Jacobs, a Manhattan attorney who specializes in trademark law. “You can’t even enforce your rights as a result of an application until you’ve actually used the logo.”

The Times owns the logo, no? I assume they did more than just apply?

Neighborhoodies should just offer them a royalty and be done. They seem to have a "right" to cease and desist, but it's all about the dollar bill. It is not Neighborhoodie's logo so they should stop fronting like they are being bullied and share the credit on the thing they are using.

- Someone who has been on all sides of this coin.
June 23, 2010, 9:07 am
from says:
Just because the Times never "used" the logo, does not mean it is not their logo.
While it is silly of them to pursue, they are in the right to be pissed.
June 23, 2010, 9:12 am
freddy from slope says:
nice try ....

the "international herald tribune" does not look to be sold in the US and, it is not the NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE.

If the times thinks they can bully this on "herald tribune" only I hope they already own the sarasota herald tribune.

i know wikipedia may not be final research... but maybe the debate can start here

"""
Following the collapse of the World Journal Tribune, The New York Times and the Washington Post became joint owners with Whitney of the Herald Tribune's European edition, the International Herald Tribune, which is still published. New York magazine is also a descendant of the Herald Tribune, having originally been the Herald Tribune's Sunday magazine, a livelier version of The New York Times Magazine. Following the death of the World Journal Tribune, New York Magazine editor Clay Felker organized a group of investors who bought the name and rights, and successfully revived the weekly in 1968.
"""

either way... enforcing something you dont actively use....questionable ethically if not legally.
June 23, 2010, 9:38 am
Bob from Brooklyn Heights says:
The NY Herald-Tribune published an international edition. After ceasing publication in NYC, the Herald-Tribune continued to print its international edition. The Herald-Tribune added the NYT and WaPost as partners. A few years ago, the NYT became the sole owner.

The international Herald-Tribune is printed in several cities, INCLUDING NEW YORK. It is sold on quite a few New York City newsstands.

It is a direct continuation of the New York Herald-Tribune; the Sarasota (Florida) Herald-Tribune is not.
June 23, 2010, 10:53 am
freddy from slope says:
bob:

here is the rub...a direct continuation is not a trademark.

just as the dodgers abandoned the trademark, i think the times may be on the wrong side of this one. at least i hope so. they don't represent anything all that relevant anymore.

i look for any reference to the "new york herald tribune" since 1968-ish. not just olfd photos.. a coffee mug they sold in the 70/80/90s. a t-shirt they sold. anything. then you might have a bullet-proof argument.

gotta love youngsters digging up our abandoned cultural heritage and causing a stink. more power to them on this one.
June 23, 2010, 12:19 pm
William Lee from Williamsburg says:
The International Herald Tribune is published daily in the U.S. -- here it is printed in Long Island City and is available on many newsstands in the city. I subscribe by mail (for only $33 a month) and usually receive it on the day of publication. It is a much better paper than its parent The New York Times, with better international coverage (news, finance and sports), a greater diversity of opinion -- and comics! (Calvin and Hobbes live on in the IHT!) If The Times had any business "nouse" or sense of irony, they would capitalize on the sexy cachet of this (admittedly anachronistic) T-shirt -- I bought one in Paris, back in the day -- to promote their sibling paper in the region. But they don't.
June 23, 2010, 3:56 pm

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