muni vs N Judah Chronicles and the San Francisco copyright

Updated September 15, 2012 > N Judah has a new victory post

Updated September 14, 2012, Greg Dewar's designs have been restored! Congrats to Greg for networking, speaking up about it and standing up for his rights

updated September 13, 2012 > Greg Dewar now has his own post about it on N judah Chronicles. Also, SF Weekly now has an article on it with new info including the takedown letter and that Dewar wasn't even the intended target in the first place

Updated SFWeekly archive 2022 link with Archive.org

http://web.archive.org/web/20121003054953/https://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2012/09/n_judah_muni_t_shirt.php

Now it looks like it's all Zazzle's screw up- I did call the city attorney and Robin Reitzes and Reitzes wouldn't get back to me so the original post below stands
This stills smells funny. If the take down letter didn't mention Dewar's account, then how did Zazzle take notice?. By searching their own archives for anything MUNI just to be sure nothing's left? I don't think so, because only two items were removed while 4 others were left standing in Dewars account. Now how did Zazzle know which items to remove and which items to leave in if Dewar was never mentioned in the take down letter? This doesn't add up. Especially since one of the items were specifically targeted in the letter that was sent to Dewar
---original post---------------
September 11, 2012
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, otherwise known as MUNI has apparently sent a cease and desist to the owner of N Judah Chronicles. More specifically, MUNI sent a letter to Zazzle for a claim against Greg Dewar's T-Shirts.
This is the first twitter post about it

https://twitter.com/njudah/status/245290629230383105
Greg Dewar @njudah
It's confirmed: @sfmta_muni told @Zazzle to kill off my t shirt designs and my poster celebrating the 80th anniversary of the N. Jerks.

San Francisco supervisor Bevan Dufty even tweeted about this
bevan.dufty.n.judah.tees
By coincidence, I happened to be doing research on an urban legend that the City and County of San Francisco has a copyright on the name San Francisco and that the city gets royalties from it. These two stories are both related because State and City flags and seals cannot be trademarked, but logos of agencies within the government can trademark logos and slogans, see (PDF) > http://www.cllaw.us/papers/IMLA_Trademark_Paper.pdf

• The city of San Francisco holds a copyright on the name "San Francisco." It is illegal to manufacture any item with the name without first getting permission from the city. Since the Supreme Court upheld the copyright, San Francisco has had an annual $300 million surplus every year.

This statement is repeated on many blogs and even the San Francisco Examiner and an attorney who should know better. It is completely false and the city attorneys office will confirm it. First of all, a location cannot be copyrighted by itself. This is explained partially at Chilling Effects on why the Star Trek movies can use stock footage of San Francisco freely because it's not copyrightable. What San Francisco does have a copyright on is the logo for the official seal of the City of San Francisco, and only that seal/logo. That is copyrightable because it is a design that somebody made, and is not the name San Francisco itself. In other words, you cannot be selling t-shirts with that official seal without permission, but you can freely use the words "San Francisco" and make your own logo. The name San Francisco is not trademarked by itself which is why there are numerous companies that have trademarked names with the words San Francisco in it, like Bike San Francisco, for example or even I Left My Heart in San Francisco which is trademarked by the private San Francisco visitors bureau
With that out of the way, on to the MUNI threats. First of all I do not have a copy of the letter that MUNI sent to Zazzle regarding the T-shirts that supposedly infringe on MUNI's trademark, but there's only a couple of possibilities because it must involve a trademark. As far as anybody knows it involves the train logo
njudah.twitter1a
Note, this is not a copyright, but a trademark. To know the difference between copyrights and trademarks, see here. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority does have several trademarks on the name MUNI, including the classic wavy line logo
Here are two of the designs that MUNI requested that Zazzle remove
The N is Near!
80th Anniversary of the N Judah Shirts Now Available!
The remaining designs on Zazzle were not asked to be taken down
The most important thing here is that the official logos were never used in any of the designs. This first one is obviously a parody, while the second 80th anniversary is the only one where MUNI could have a case, but that doesn't use the official logo either, but there might be a possibility of confusion. Of course, without the official logo, it's pretty hard for anyone to imagine that they would be official products of MUNI. the SFMTA doesn't have a trademark on any of he buses, trains or trolleys, just the three logos below, one of which is no longer active. The problem is, this is just Zazzle, a company that isn't about to fight for a small time t-shirt maker, no matter how good a case it might be for Dewar. It would probably be a different story if it actually was challenged in court
Below are the two official trademarked MUNI logos that are still registered and active with the United States Patent and Trademark office. There are no trademarks for any of the individual MUNI lines such as the N Judah
design 1, the train logo. This trademark is actually dead and cancelled and can no longer be used by MUNI unless they re-register it, so anyone is free to use it in any way shape or form (although MUNI might still send threatening letters, like they did here)
muni.trademark1c

http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4010:b3re53.2.22
Word Mark SF MUNI
Goods and Services (CANCELLED) IC 016. US 002 005 022 023 029 037 038 050. G & S: Printed paper tickets. FIRST USE: 19690624. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20000701
Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS
Design Search Code 18.05.04 - Buses; Cable cars, trolley; Trolleys
Serial Number 76037545
Filing Date May 1, 2000
Current Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1B
Published for Opposition May 28, 2002
Registration Number 2702948
Registration Date April 1, 2003
Owner (REGISTRANT) City and County of San Francisco MUNICIPAL CORPORATION CALIFORNIA 401 Van Ness Avenue San Francisco CALIFORNIA 94102
Disclaimer NO CLAIM IS MADE TO THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO USE "SF" APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Cancellation Date November 7, 2009

design 2, the token
muni.trademark1b

http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4009:e0rvog.3.37
Word Mark SF MUNICIPAL RAILWAY
Goods and Services IC 014. US 002 027 028 050. G & S: METAL COINS, NAMELY TRANSIT TOKENS. FIRST USE: 19450101. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19450101
Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS
Design Search Code 24.07.01 - Coins; Money (coins)
26.01.02 - Circles, plain single line; Plain single line circles
26.01.13 - Circles, two (not concentric); Two circles
26.01.16 - Circles touching or intersecting
26.01.17 - Circles, two concentric; Concentric circles, two; Two concentric circles
Serial Number 75868221
Filing Date December 10, 1999
Current Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition February 24, 2004
Registration Number 2842063
Registration Date May 18, 2004
Owner (REGISTRANT) City and County of San Francisco MUNICIPAL CORPORATION CALIFORNIA 1 South Van Ness Ave. 3rd Ave. San Francisco CALIFORNIA 94103
Attorney of Record Robin M. Reitzes
Disclaimer NO CLAIM IS MADE TO THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO USE "MUNICIPAL RAILWAY" APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN
Description of Mark The lining is a feature of the mark and does not indicate color.
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL-2(F)
Affidavit Text SECT 8 (6-YR).
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

design 3, the most famous logo
muni.trademark1a

http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4009:e0rvog.3.42
Word Mark MUNI
Goods and Services IC 039. US 100 105. G & S: Public transportation of passengers by motor coach, electrically powered vehicle, light-rail vehicle, cable car and paratransit. FIRST USE: 19740101. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19740101
Mark Drawing Code (5) WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS IN STYLIZED FORM
Serial Number 75868216
Filing Date December 10, 1999
Current Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition August 29, 2000
Registration Number 2406171
Registration Date November 21, 2000
Owner (REGISTRANT) City and County of San Francisco MUNICIPAL CORPORATION CALIFORNIA One South Van Ness Ave. 3rd floor San Francisco CALIFORNIA 94103
Attorney of Record Robin M. Reitzes
Description of Mark The mark consists of the word "MUNI" in a stylized design.
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 8 (6-YR). SECTION 8(10-YR) 20091202.
Renewal 1ST RENEWAL 20091202
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

More importantly, the attorney of record, Robin Reitzes is at the City Attorneys office, also from the same USPTO record. This means that effectively, the City and County of San Francisco and the city attorneys office are going after a local blogger for making parody t-shirts of MUNI

Owner Name: City and County of San Francisco
Owner Address: One South Van Ness Ave.
3rd floor
San Francisco, CALIFORNIA 94103
UNITED STATES
Legal Entity Type: MUNICIPAL CORPORATION State or Country Where Organized: CALIFORNIA
Attorney/Correspondence Information
Attorney of Record
Attorney Name: Robin M. Reitzes
Correspondent
Correspondent Name/Address: Robin M. Reitzes
City Attorney's Office
1390 Market St.
6th floor
San Francisco, CALIFORNIA 94102
UNITED STATES
Phone: 415-554-4260 Fax: 415-255-3139
Correspondent e-mail: robin.reitzes@sfgov.org Correspondent e-mail Authorized: Yes

Lets assume for a minute that the logos in the t-shirts are close enough to be confused and that MUNI has a case for infringement. There is still the issue that the t-shirts are a parody and/or criticism, which usually trumps trademark laws just by itself. There are numerous cases where this has happened, like North Face vs South Butt and Louis Vuitton vs Chewy Vuiton
Yes this is very funny and so is Greg Dewar's designs, and that is the key. If it is funny it will usually stand up especially when it involves a famous name like MUNI.
This seriously looks like a case of trademark bullying and intimidation by MUNI and it probably will never win in court

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