Robert Lopez was ordered to stop making apparel that riffs on various famous New York City logos. Lopez was selling low-quality merchandise like hoodies, caps, and t-shirts based on well-known logos from Central Park, the Parks and Recreations Department, and even the Sanitation Department. For example, the Central Park logo features a broad leaf, which Lopez replaced with a cannabis leaf.
According to the Judge’s order, Lopez has filed for federal registration of his products’ artwork, but in the meantime, he has been ordered to stop selling the merchandise. The city also argued that with the impending legalization of cannabis in the state, many of these departments could be involved in the oversight of the cannabis program which could confuse consumers. Lopez did concede that he based his products on the city’s trademarked logos.
The judge wrote in his order, “The Court must consider the public interest and, here, a preliminary injunction would serve the public interest. There is a strong interest in preventing consumer confusion and protecting federally registered trademarks.”
Lopez was using the name NYC New York Cannabis and was operating a retail store located at 40 Clinton Street, New York NY 10002. Plus, online stores at www.lesclothing.com and www.nyc-cannabis537.nyc, and was using social media accounts, including Facebook (L.E.S. Clothing Co and @lesclothngco) and Instagram (nyc.cannabis.537 and nyc_cannabis_537), to promote, offer and sell goods and services to consumers in the United States, in New York and this judicial district bearing marks that infringe upon the City Trademarks.
The city filed suit against Lopez back in September when Lopez began selling apparel featuring a Department of Sanitation logo altered to read “Department of Cultivation,” and a Department of Transportation logo that reads “New York Cannabis,” among others. He was asked to stop by the city but he refused by claiming it was a parody. The city has sued other individuals and companies in the past and has won almost every case.
Lopez’s company borrows heavily from other famous logos like Jean Michel Basquiat’s crown image, the Olympic rings, and the NFL logo. The cannabis products no longer appear on the website, but it does say that it gives away “promotional cannabis” with the purchase of an item in the store.