Nope, Dat’s Mine
So you’re in the Big Apple for the first time (or maybe the 50th) and you want something kitschy to remember your visit by. You could go with the staple “I ❤ NY” t-shirt, but you can buy those in any state/country now. Then you stumble down Broadway and come across this amazing redbrick with the most darling housewares you’ve ever seen. Lo and behold you can buy place-mats and bags, cups and saucers, serving trays and coffee mugs with the NYC skyline! Or … you could.
A cease and desist letter has been sent out by legal counsel for the Port Authority requiring that housewares with the “212 New York Skyline” and “Bridge and Tunnel” patterns be destroyed. The claim is that Fishs Eddy is unfairly profiting from the Port Authority’s assets. Now, understand here for a minute that the Port Authority owns 1 World Trade Center as well as the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; they also apparently held ownership of the twin towers. The depictions and words surrounding the towers seem to really be at the heart of the issue – the Port Authority felt it interfered with control of their reputation by bringing up “thoughts of the Port Authority, the twin towers, WTC and the September 11 terrorist attacks,” according to the New York Times.
In analyzing this story, one has to be cognizant of the fact that it’s not a photo of the any of the “assets” that is being depicted. Not even a true-likeness drawing. It’s a cartoon with some prominent buildings and words. It can’t be the words that bother the Port Authority or every news agency from here to Switzerland and all the tourist traps in New York would be pulled into a law suit. So it has to be the drawing. Can the company claim some kind of artistic license, since it’s an interpretation? Is the likeness interfering substantially with Port Authority business? Is there some kind of monetary loss they’re suffering (or do they just want to funnel the profits made from this local business toward their own coffers?)?
The boutique store has expressed that they won’t be removing their best selling 212 line despite the correspondence (it’s still available on the website, and in store). Let the legal battle begin!