Tuesday, July 11, 2006

You Mean the Person Handing Me a Tract Isn't a J-F-J Subway Stop?

Jews for Jesus is in the news again. They had t-shirts with the J and F MTA train symbols on them.

The MTA felt it was a violation of their trademarks and so the t-shirts were changed.
Leaders of the organization said they understood using MTA logos was forbidden in the $1.4 million advertising campaign, which has drawn the ire of the city's Jewish organizations. But they thought their Web site and pamphlets were a different matter.

If you look carefully, you'll see the Hebrew phrase "Y'shua lives" on the shirt of the lady in the picture. That's my favorite shirt I've seen so far.
Jews for Jesus responded by converting the circular logos into brown and orange Stars of David. Initially, not even that appeased the agency, Perlman said.

"Our lawyer was told that still might be an infringement," she said.

In fact, MTA officials agreed they own no rights to the letter F inside a Star of David. "They altered the logo, and as far as we're concerned, it's now resolved," MTA spokesman Timothy O'Brien said.

Perlman said she and the Jews for Jesus faithful were glad to hear it, because they had already begun the process of altering the circles on hundreds of T-shirts using black markers.

You don't want to have to put up with marker fumes more than once.

But it seems that transit advocates have Jews for Jesus' back (at least on this topic):
Transit advocates say that while they understand the need to protect the trademarks from profiteers, they are troubled by nonprofit organizations being threatened.

"We use subway imagery all the time," said Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers Campaign.

"Frankly, it's hard to believe a Jews for Jesus brochure will be mistaken for MTA-sponsored materials."

I'm no expert in trademark law and fair-use, but I think Mr. Russianoff's point is that non-profits have a right to use the public symbol as long as people aren't being tricked into thinking the use of a symbol is a MTA-related thing. At least, I think that's his point.


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