It is sometimes amazing what happens in Key West. In the news yesterday it was reported that a company has filed lawsuits against other companies that manufacture the popular Key West souvenir, the green “Mile 0” road marker at the corner of Whitehead & Fleming streets.

How the hell does someone trademark a US road sign? Well, Key West businessman Yaron Wasserman has been attempting to do just that since 2004. His first attempt was denied because it is considered “geographically descriptive”, which the Trademark Office doesn’t permit. But Mr. Wasserman didn’t give up and in 2006 he was awarded a trademark.

Now he has sued three other shops in Key West that sell the nifty and popular plastic street signs and a range of other “Mile 0” paraphernalia. Wasserman claims they violate his trademark. This obviously hasn’t gone unnoticed by a few manufacturers around the country who have been making and distributing the novelties for several years.

These companies are now taking Wasserman and the Trademark Office to task, claiming a trademark never should have been issued. They also claim Wasserman made false statements in his application for a trademark.

Was this a brilliant business move by Wasserman, who owns the “Mile 0 Store” on Greene Street, or an obnoxious ploy to cash-in on a popular fad for tourists who visit Key West. I think the later, but that’s just my opinion.

But this whole episode, which is still active, brings to the forefront the government policies for patent & trademark application processing. More to the point, what can and can not be trademarked? While this issue goes through the court system, you can still purchase your “Mile 0” souvenirs at several locations around Key West. Even better, take your camera down to the corner of Whitehead & Fleming and capture your own personal memory of your visit to Key West.

One Response to “Mile Marker 0 Trademarked?”

  1. Did you know, that the famous road state sign: ” ROUTE 66 “, is a federal trademark, belonging to a few different companies, in different categories, that-is. I do think; that any “mile marker” could be trademarked as a company’s logo, in that case.

    “ROUTE 66” sound’s more “geographically descriptive”, since there is only one, or, are there more? Although, there are numerous “Mile 0” around the country, at the end of each highway and that does not make “Mile 0”, geographically descriptive, in my opinion. I guess, this guy was smart enough to trademark-it. Brilliant idea.

    I wonder; can i trademark “Mile 1 Key West” or 2, 3, 4… hmmm..