Photographer takes city to court over ‘Portland Oregon’ sign

A company that sells prints on challenges ordinance that charges for use of sign.

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The owner of a company that sells prints on is challenging a city of Portland ordinance that charges for use of the “Portland Oregon” sign in Old Town.

Owner of Vintage Roadside Jeff Kunkle says he was the recipient of a trademark violation letter from the city attorney for vintage photos of the sign.

The city trademarked the sign in 2011, charging businesses from $100 to $20,000 for the use of it, according to an report.

He isn’t seeking any money from the city. He told The Oregonian/ that he only wants the city to back off its trademark claim and stop charging businesses, big and small alike. He contends that the city improperly trademarked the sign because it’s not an image that the city uses to denote goods or products.

“I’ve photographed signs all across the country and most people are happy to see their signs photographed because it’s great publicity,” Kunkle said.

Kunkle was selling an earlier version of the sign on the small-business online marketplace.

 In a five-page complaint filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, attorney Robert Swider, representing the small shop, claimed the city’s rights were unenforceable under state trademark laws because city officials were not actually using the sign to sell anything.

In fact, the lawsuit claimed, the city was not using the trademark when the Bureau of Internal Business Services filed a trade and service mark registration form with the secretary of state’s office in July 2011. The city’s registration form shows that it began using the trademark in November 2010.

(SOURCE: Portland Tribune)



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