Remember those pieces of granite salvaged from LOVE Park and painted with a likeness of the LOVE sculpture? People stood in line for hours on Black Friday 2017 to buy them as part of a sale run by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
But no one actually went home with the mementos, because the city received a cease-and-desist letter hours before the sale, alleging trademark infringement.
Fourteen months later, the matter appears to have been resolved. The city will sell the keepsakes to the first 248 people who registered for them in the park on Nov. 24, 2017. Those people received emails Thursday notifying them.
Because more people signed up than there are mementos (the city only received permission to sell those that had already been made), additional pieces featuring the words “Love Park” in a red heart will soon go on sale.
Kathryn Ott Lovell, Commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation said information on those will be coming closer to Valentine’s Day. “Those will be limited, too,” she said. “We only have so much granite and we are using a bunch of the granite to build a new skate park."
Lovell said part of the resolution with the Morgan Art Foundation, which holds the trademark to the image, was an agreement to put plaques on the back of each brick with information about artist Robert Indiana’s legacy. The foundation also asked that only the 250 bricks already created be sold — and then asked for two for their own archives. They are not charging the city any usage fee.
Proceeds from each $50 block will fund programs and upkeep in city parks.
The incident sparked questions about the hundreds of souvenirs and keepsakes sold around the city with the image, which is trademarked by the Morgan Art Foundation, not Indiana, who died in May.
Lovell said since Parks and Recreation faced an issue over use of the image, she can’t help noticing it on items all around the city. “I have a little album on my phone of pictures I take every time I see something, not because I’m about to rat anyone out but because I’m like, ‘Wow, I don’t know how we got caught and all these other folks didn’t!"
Indiana first painted the LOVE design on a Christmas card commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art in 1965. He didn’t copyright the work, as required to prevent copycats under a 1909 law, and versions of it became ubiquitous.
He later sold the copyright to the Morgan Art Foundation, which holds two federal trademarks for “the letters ‘LO’ above letters ‘VE’ in a stylized form.” The trademarks apply to dozens of items and services, including calendars, postcards, works of art, computer software, jewelry, clothing, sunglasses, marketing and promotional services, decorations for Christmas trees, umbrellas, and greeting cards. Another trademark, filed in August 2017, would cover animal crates, pet beds, and objects made of china.
Luke Nikas, an attorney who represents Morgan Arts, said Indiana’s death wasn’t relevant to the resolution of the matter with the city.