13 June 2017Trademarks

New York City sues souvenir shop owners selling NYPD counterfeits

The City of New York has sued a souvenir shop selling a range of unauthorised New York police and fire department clothing.

The case was filed at the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Friday, June 9.

It claims that the defendants, named as Salvatore and Susan Piccolo, sold merchandise bearing the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) trademarks in their New York-based merchandise shop.

According to the claim, the City of New York wrote a cease-and-desist letter in March 2014 and a follow up letter in December of that year, “demanding that defendants immediately cease and desist from selling unlicensed and unauthorised merchandise”.

It is further alleged that in a phone call in December 2014,Susan Piccolo said the infringing products had been donated to charity, before an undercover investigation by the City of New York the following June allegedly found them to be still selling infringing goods.

The City began using the FDNY mark shortly after the FDNY's formation as a professional fire department in 1865, said the claim.

It added: “The NYPD has provided police and civil protection services since at least as early as 1845 and has continuously used the NYPD Shield since at least as early as July 1, 1971.”

The Cityowns US registration numbers 3763645 and 3191341 for use of the police and fire department badges respectively on clothing such as hats and t-shirts.

It also operates a merchandise licensing programme, where an external company distributes the rights to use the marks to sell goods to the general public.

Salvatore and Susan Piccolo do have a disclaimer on their website which states that “not all products are licensed by the city of NY and some insignia are presented as decoration and do not indicate any sponsorship or approval of the city”.

The City is seeking injunctive relief, a transfer of profits gained from the infringing products, damages and a jury trial.

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