New York Hates When You ♥ New York

May 30, 2013 | Andy Cush

Look at the image above, the logo for Everyman Espresso, a coffee shop with locations in SoHo and the East Village. Does it remind you of the state of New York’s iconic “I ♥ NY” mark? Enough for the state to take legal action?

That’s exactly what’s happening, as the state’s Department of Economic Development gets its Supreme on, claiming federal trademark violation and ordering Everyman to pull down all uses of its logo, which features a fist tattooed with “I [an image of a coffee mug] NY,” holding a portafilter and surrounded by the coffee shop’s name. After Everyman owner Sam Penix complied with the state’s demands, he received a letter from state lawyers asking for money to compensate for Penix’s unauthorized use of the logo.

This isn’t the first time the state has gone HAM with the trademark lawsuits. According to the New York Times, over 100 cease-and-desist letters were sent to companies who incorporated the logo last year. Even the legendary Milton Glaser, the designer who created “I ♥ NY” in the 1970s, once received a threat of a lawsuit, when he designed an “I ♥ NY More Than Ever” poster to raise money for charities after 9/11.

As Penix points out, in addition to the pettiness, there’s some cruel irony at play here as well. From the Times:

“Basically, it’s extortion,” he said. “It’s also ironic because we are being threatened by the entity that has vowed to grow our New York business.”

The mission of Empire State Development, the [Department of Economic Development’s] parent agency, is indeed “to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies.”