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].