I Love New York people censor I Coffee Cup New York logo, want to send them a bill

Empire State Development, the New York State agency devoted to promoting New York businesses, threatened the (extremely excellent) Everyman Espresso shop with a lawsuit because they used an "I [Coffee Cup] New York" logo (the logo appears on the knuckles of Sam Penix, who co-owns Everyman). After Everyman took the sign down, Empire State Development's lawyers demanded "an accounting of all gross revenues generated during the period when the I ♥ NY® Trademark was used" so that they could figure out how big a bill to send to a small New York business for using it.

“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’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.” Empire State Development is also home to the state tourism department, which started an effort last year to revive and reinvent its “I ♥ NY” campaign.

On Monday, Everyman slapped a “Censored” sign over the logo on the door of its second shop, on West Broadway in SoHo, which opened last summer. Everyman’s principals are complying with Ms. Neumann’s request, albeit under protest. “We just think there’s no likelihood of confusion,” Mr. Terrana said.

A Cup Is at the Heart of a Trademark Dispute


  1. He should never have complied without a fight. Now his compliance appears to be an acknowledgement of wrongdoing, validating the trolls efforts to squeeze him for money.

  2. Everyman Espresso is one of the really great espresso shops in NYC.   Still, I doubt their income will cover a legal battle with the city.   This is really sickening.

  3. Well, of course, they have to collect fees for the use of it to pay the enormous, crippling royalties they pay to the guy who originally came up with it… oh wait no he gave it to them for free. Never mind.

    1. Actually Milton Glaser did the design for free in part because he was led to believe that the campaign, begun in 1977, would only last a few months. Moral of the story: when the City cons people out of valuable IP, it’s a-ok, but when businesses use it for it’s legitimate purpose, the City shakes them down.

      I 卍 NY

  4. “I Love Paris” is a popular song written by Cole Porter and published in 1953.

  5. Going after gross revenue is absurd, especially considering in the food business that there is very little money left at the end of the day.

    Perhaps, the shown books should show a negative amount by instigating a “promotion” where each revenue opportunity was “surrendered” to their preferred customers, eg “free cup of joe to anyone who brings their (censored) product for refill.”

    1. sounds like they have merchandise left over with the logo – they should just submit that as payment.

  6. Trademark owners are obligated to fight to maintain exclusive control of their trademark or lose it under the law.  Still though, especially in light of their economic growth mission, they should’ve said “Stop using it until we work out an agreement where we license it to you for a nominal fee”.  This whole “fork over all your money!” demand smacks of a PR debacle for the state.

    Of course this all depends on whether they can claim ownership of all variations of “I ___ NY”.  A bit of a stretch I’d say.

    1. Yeah, I recall a Far Side cartoon featuring Godzilla driving a car with an “I 8 NY” bumper sticker.

    2. But is the purpose of the Empire State Development agency to protect the license fees from the trademark, or to promote the city?
      If it’s the latter, doesn’t ANY use of “I heart NY” promote the city?

      …and of course on claiming ownership of all variations, it looks like that’s exactly what they’re doing.

    3.  No, they aren’t.

      They have lots of other options ( such as acknowledging that their mark doesn’t stretch to cover a coffee cup), up to an including sending the business a letter granting them permission. Both of those would have defended the I HEART NY trademark perfectly well.

  7. The heart is no longer an accurate expression of my sentiments toward tourism in New York after reading about Empire State Development and the State Tourism Department’s actions. I offer this as an updated design. 


  8. Here’s the email I just sent to them:

    Your mission is to harass small business? IDIOTS!
    Just had to write after reading about how you are harassing a small business for using a variation of the “I Heart ____” meme with a coffee cup in place of the heart.How motherf*ing stupid are you people?If you had half a brain cell functioning you would use social media to PROMOTE the idea of MORE small businesses reinterpreting and reinforcing the “I Heart NY” concept.Truly, your stupidity and evil power trip bullying are mind boggling, you hands down win biggest a-holes of MAY 2013.

  9. why not put “I ☕ NY” i mean if you are gonna put “I ♥ NY”  might as well do the same for coffee

  10. Sam Penix, who co-owns Everyman

    Wasn’t he the guy responsible for that alternative operating system? You know, the one with the penguin logo?

  11. Guess which of my body parts is going to send a cease&desist letter to Sam Penix for infringement?

    That’s right. Hand sounds pretty close to Sam. Too close!

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