Tag Archives: Edifice Complexes

Manchester Cathedral, you’re driving me crazy

Originally posted 2007-06-14 11:42:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Manchester Cathedral, Winchester Cathedral — same thing. We’ve written in the past — well, not us, there is only just me here; sorry — about the dubious concept of trademark rights in building exteriors. Now Bill Patry writes about a proposed copyright lawsuit by the Church of England, which does not object to violence against Jews, who have it coming to them, but gets the vapors over virtual gunfights being depicted in its magnificent hallowed (and hollow) halls:

Manchester Cathedral

Various UK sources ran stories yesterday about the Church of England’s pique over Sony’s Playstation 3 alleged replication of the interior of the Manchester Cathedral as a dropback in a gunfight in the game “Resistance: The Fall of Man. (HT to Bruce C. in the frozen north). Andrew Mills has a fantastic, very detailed piece on the story, here, including a YouTube link to the sequence in question.

The Church of England has threatened to sue Sony after the Japanese company used Manchester Cathedral as the backdrop to the gunfight in the PlayStation 3 game Resistance: The Fall of Man.

It could have a case, lawyers say.

In general, [however], the outside of a well-known building is not considered to be protected under the law, Tom Frederikse, an intellectual property specialist with Clintons, the law firm, said.

Patry points out that under Section 120(a) of the Copyright Act, U.S. law, which does protect copyright in archtectural works, nonetheless explicitly permits “the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.” He notes that the question of whether the interior of a building could be “ordinary visible from a public space” is one he had not considered, and he’s considered a lot. Of course the building is publicly accessible, as he points out, but it seems a bit churlish to reward the building’s owner for making its space accessible by deeming that space itself “public” and thereby denuding him of rights he otherwise would have.

Well, that’s American law, anyway. Read More…

Best of 2006: Trademark City

Originally posted 2006-11-15 01:03:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Trademark City

The Strategic Name Development blog reports that the naming rights to the New York Mets’ new baseball stadium have been sold to Citigroup. The stadium will be called “CitiField” and the privilege of that garish plug will cost Citigroup $20 million a year, or the cost of a grade-A free agent. The blog post has a great rundown on alternative “Citi” names that were considered, as well as a roundup of back-page and other learned reactions.

10 Years of LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION®

10 Years of LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION®

CitiGroup is itself a metropolis of trademark issues. The CitiGroup Center, which is right out the window of my office (over my shoulder in the picture above left), is a landmark building, i.e., a de facto trademark for the company on the New York skyline, of which it is one of the leading and tallest lights. In the picture below, taken from the east, you can see how its distinctive angles tower jauntily over the lovable rust-colored “lipstick”-shaped [former] LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION Building at 885 Third Avenue (below). But of course, buildings can’t really be trademarks, can they? If they can be, the CitiGroup Center is. Read More…

Trademark City

Originally posted 2006-11-15 01:03:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Strategic Name Development blog reports that the naming rights to the New York Mets’ new baseball stadium have been sold to Citigroup. The stadium will be called “CitiField” and the privilege of that garish plug will cost Citigroup $20 million a year, or the cost of a grade-A free agent. The blog post has a great rundown on alternative “Citi” names that were considered, as well as a roundup of back-page and other learned reactions.

Trademark CityCitiGroup is itself a metropolis of trademark issues. The CitiGroup Center, which is right out the window of my office (over my shoulder in the picture), is a landmark building, i.e., a de facto trademark for the company on the New York skyline, of which it is one of the leading and tallest lights. In the picture below, taken from the east, you can see how its distinctive angles tower jauntily over the lovable rust-colored “lipstick”-shaped [former] LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION Building at 885 Third Avenue. But of course, buildings can’t really be trademarks, can they? If they can be, the CitiGroup Center is.

The building changed names, though, when the company did, so we old-timers still call it the Citicorp Center, just as the MetLife Building will always be the Pan Am Building and of course “Avenue of the Americas” always Sixth Avenue. Citicorp had just changed its own name from First National City Corporation, a successor to its original name of City Bank of New York, later National City Bank; and it has had its hands full for decades managing its “City” trademark identity. (The whole timeline is here if you’re that interested.)

As the SND Blog points out, “Citi” is as good a corporate name you’re going to get for a baseball stadium in New York, much less for a team with name roots as the Metropolitans and offspring in New York sports-team namesmanship such as the Jets*, the Nets** , and — yes, I found a link to confirm my recollection! — the defunct New Jersey Sets team of professional womens’ team tennis. Yes, you can close your eyes and pretend the name is really something as retro as “City Field.” And after all — talk about your generic and your descriptive would-be trademarks — around here when we say “the City” we don’t mean Hoboken.

But the whole idea of a sports stadium named after just another company with a skyscraper is so very un-New York and especially, as one of the blogs linked to in the SND blog notes, unthinkable regarding the ballparks / temples of sport myths — in particular, the fields where the Yankees, Cubs and Red Sox play. But of those three, only one, Yankee Stadium, is called after the team itself, the one with the most profound brand equity (not to mention equity equity) in the country, and perhaps the world. And yet they’re tearing down the House that Ruth Built (ah, Ruth — another trademark hyperlink in itself!), and supposedly anything could happen; heck, another season of carrying A-Rod and his paycheck five games into the playoffs and they could end up as the New York Yahoos! or Bronx eBays or something.

It’s the best we can make of a world where everything’s for sale, I suppose. It’s not as if there were anything special about Shea Stadium, either architecturally or as a name. Plus no one could really hit in that darned place. Anyway, that’s life in the big Citi.


* More name-and-geographical-designation confusion: Those are the “New York Jets,” who like the “New York Giants” play in “Giants Stadium” in New Jersey scant miles across the Hudson River but who once played under roar of the JFK Airport flightpath at Shea Stadium, the Mets’ outgoing home.

** Now of New Jersey too but who originally played in the New Jersey of New York.

The Sound of silence

Originally posted 2009-04-24 19:21:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Michael Atkins is beside himself with intellectual-property-enforcement sounders-logofrustration about the use of an image of the Seattle Space Needle — a tall pointy building what they have there instead of skyscrapers — on the logo of some foreign-sport team called the Sounders:

Which of course brings me to trademark law. In particular, what’s up with the Sounders’ use of the Space Needle in its logo? As previously discussed, the Space Needle logo is a registered trademark owned by the Space Needle Corporation. The Space Needle Corporation owns two registered design marks (here and here). Just a few years ago, the company brought suit to enforce rights in its design marks against an onion ring maker that used an altered version of the Space Needle in a print ad (an onion ring replaced the Space Needle’s observation deck). Now it appears the company has licensed use of its design to the Sounders, doesn’t care about this use, or has stopped enforcing its rights.

488px-early_photo_of_seattle_space_needleFar be it from me to needle him over something like this, but I’m surprised Michael doesn’t sound out the possibility that The Space Needle Corporation doesn’t have any rights to license, care about or enforce in the image of its hamburger-on-stilts tower in the first place.

Buildings are not trademarks.  Registering two particular renderings of your building as a trademark doesn’t bootstrap the structure’s likeness into a trademark.  Neither does suing someone else and claiming it is one, unless you get a court to agree with you.

Which it shouldn’t!

Pro shutterbug’s guide to IP

Originally posted 2007-07-04 22:04:10. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Here’s a good excerpt from a new book by copyright doyenne Nancy Wolff called The Professional Photographer’s Legal Handbook. It’s on a favorite topic of mine, namely intellectual property rights (supposed ones, that is) in buildings:

A three dimensional building will rarely serve as a trademark. An owner of a mark needs consistency to create a trademark. The building must be shown in the same angle on all brochures, advertising, marketing material, etc. Other museums or entities learning a lesson from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame may begin using the same image of their building consistently and over time build trademark rights. An example of the consistent use of a building as a trademark is the stylized illustration of the Transamerica pyramid as a logo for the insurance company. Use of the logo would constitute trademark infringement by a competitor, but showing the building in a skyline photo of San Francisco would not.

Nancy Wolff gets it! And if I were a professional photographer (and sometimes I wish I were), I’d get her book.

 

Pure evil

Originally posted 2008-02-25 23:03:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

And it doesn’t even exactly involve the Red Sox:

Various buildings overlook Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. Entities unrelated to the Cubs operate businesses on those buidlings’ rooftops, charging admission and selling food and drink during Cubs games. The Cubs have sued some of these businesses for, among other things, falsely suggesting endorsement by the Cubs

Not surprising. MLB is one of the worst abusers of the IP laws, by the way. More here. And here. Incidentally, it’s unquestionably also one of the biggest victims of infringement.

But our mothers all taught us that two wrongs don’t make a right, right?

Trademarks mean something different up there, I guess

Originally posted 2007-01-29 17:00:27. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Can a building be a trademark? Can a photo of a building be a trademark? Can a drawing based on a photo of a building be a trademark? I’d be inclined to answer no, no, maybe.

Well, when the Supreme Court of your local country says it is, the answer is yes, it seems. One more reason to be glad we’re Americans (not “North Americans”), I guess. As the offending blogger, TheCourt.ca, put it, “one takedown message from the Supreme Court of Canada is… interesting; two would be unfortunate.” Yes, it would be — in more ways than two!

Hat tip to Library Boy.

Edifice of absurdity

Originally posted 2007-11-09 12:27:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Via Boing Boing ArchitectureChicago reports that the Marina City Towers condominium association is claiming “common law copyright” on the landmark Chicago buildings’ “name or image.” As blogger Lynn Becker asks,

What kind of idiot do you have to be to actually insert the phrase “under Federal and Illinois law,” when copyrights are a federal protection, and have nothing to do with state law? Then there’s the inconvenient fact the condo owners only own the top 40 floors of each 60-story tower. Exactly how can they claim to own a copyright to “Marina Towers” when the first 20 stories of the towers, and the other structures of the commercial complex, are owned by someone else? And then there’s the matter of exclusivity. Upon a quick Googlecheck, here are just a few of the other “Marina Towers” throughout the world.

Well, Lynn, that’s just the upper towers of it. We’ve discussed building trademarks — copyrights almost certainly don’t even come into this, regardless of what the condo association says, though that is not to say they never can — at some length on this blog in the past (also here). But the image of a building cannot be protected by copyright, and no one can stop another person from describing the Marina City towers as the Marina City towers — certainly not under copyright or trademark law.

I am not admitted in Illinois, though I went to law school there — can someone tell me if there is some legal surprise the rest of us are not aware of in the Land of Lincoln?

UPDATE:  “Common law copyright”?  Don’t laugh so fast!

MORE from ArchitectureChicago.  And here is a discussion of the concept of “freedom of panorama.”