By LARRY NEUMEISTER
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - The city on Monday accused a popular marketer of
police and firefighter merchandise of infringing its trademarks.
Two lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Manhattan claimed that
companies owned by Noam Freedman were selling unauthorized products
carrying the New York Police Department and Fire Department of New
York labels, "NYPD" and "FDNY," at two lower Manhattan stores.
The lawsuits demanded that the companies, Finest Bravest &
Boldest Inc. and New York Firefighter's Friend Inc., be forced to
stop selling the merchandise in the stores and on the Internet and
be ordered to pay unspecified damages.
Freedman said in an interview that he was disappointed the city
had decided to attack a business that opened in 1991, when the city
did not actively market the kind of merchandise that ballooned in
popularity nationwide after Sept. 11, 2001.
"Going after a family business with our history should be
humiliating for them," he said.
He said he called the fire department in 1991, asked if it had a
licensing program and was told it did not.
"They said it sounded like a good idea and wished us luck," he
said. "We created the field."
Initially, the only customers were firefighters - until word got
out. Eventually, there were senators and congressmen, mayors and
deputy commissioners, even professional baseball players among
customers, he said.
In 1996, he opened a store specializing in police merchandise
and endured difficult years when the police were unpopular. The
store's windows were smashed, graffiti was scrawled on the sidewalk
and telephone insults were common, he recalled.
He said the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center,
in which hundreds of firefighters and police officers died, "put
an end to open hostility" and scores of people were soon lined
down the block and around the corner.
The city's lawsuits noted the long lines outside Freedman's
stores after the terrorist attack and said they resulted from
consumers' mistaken beliefs that the merchandise was licensed or
authorized by the city.
The lawsuits said the notion was reinforced by Freedman's
selling licensed NYPD and FDNY merchandise alongside his own and
the close proximity to a firehouse on Lafayette Street.
Freedman said he was careful not to take advantage of the Sept.
"We knew a number of people who died that day," he said. "We
made money, but a fraction of what was available to us."
He said the stores donated $250,000 to a variety of charities
and institutions, including police and firefighter organizations
and a burn center.
He said he believes he has prior-use rights to the trademarks
because he operated for seven years before the city first contacted
him, 10 years before he received a cease-and-desist letter and
nearly 15 years before the lawsuits.
Although he had negotiated with the city for several years over
the fire department trademarks, he said, he had never heard from
anyone about the police merchandise until Monday.
"In all sincerity, I don't think I should be paying a penny,"
He said he would countersue and litigate the issues for the next
five years if he had more money to take on City Hall.
Instead, he said, "I'd like to just settle this and make this
Meanwhile, he said, sales of merchandise have fallen to levels
similar to before Sept. 11, 2001, partly because the rest of the
country has moved on to other interests and because numerous stores
sell similar merchandise now.
He said he found the lawsuit ironic because the city's fire
museum bought his shirts when it ran out and the mayor's office
called after Sept. 11 to inquire about NYPD and FDNY windbreakers
for ground zero officials, though it bought them elsewhere.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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08-02-2005, 05:07 AM #1
New York sues major marketer of NYPD, FDNY merchandiseProudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
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08-02-2005, 05:47 AM #2
The guy SHOULD be shut down......I have been in NY FF's Friend before (right near 20 Truck's quarters) and his prices are OUTRAGEOUS! I'm talking like $18.00 For a simple T-Shirt! And this was BEFORE 9-11!!!!! That same T-Shirt probably became $25.00 on Sept. 12th! When I commented about the unusually high prices (in front of some other customers) and told the salesperson that I could walk into any firehouse in the city and "get these shirts for 5 to 10 bucks" I was promptly told to "leave the store.""Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."
08-02-2005, 10:35 AM #3
I hope your kidding.
Shut him down because he charges high prices?"This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
08-02-2005, 10:42 AM #4That same T-Shirt probably became $25.00 on Sept. 12th!
When I commented about the unusually high prices (in front of some other customers) and told the salesperson that I could walk into any firehouse in the city and "get these shirts for 5 to 10 bucks" I was promptly told to "leave the store."
When I would stop by 20 Truck I would pop over to that store and chat with the guy in there. I also asked the brothers in the truck there what they thought and the ones I asked said, in effect "Hey - he is making a living" so saying he should be shut down because of his prices is absurd.
What you didn't deal with was the question of the lawsuits? What about that?Jacktee
"Insert quotation here."
08-02-2005, 01:33 PM #5
If the allegations of the City purchasing his items are correct, then the City shouldn't have a leg to stand on, and the suit should be immediately dropped in his favor. Are the FDNY and NYPD patches trademarked??? I dont even know.
Ok, maybe I was a little drastic in saying he should be shut down for such high prices- like I said, $18 bucks for a navy blue shirt with a 5" FDNY symbol silkscreened on the front?? (nothing on the back! THAT shirt was 21 Bucks!) You guys dont think thats a little extreme??"Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."
08-02-2005, 01:51 PM #6You guys dont think thats a little extreme??Jacktee
"Insert quotation here."
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