Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Sues Pittsburgh Zoo for “Asian Lantern”

A Cleveland Metroparks spokesman told 3News that the term was trademarked and Pittsburgh Zoo had not received permission to use it.

CLEVELAND – Editor’s Note: The video in the player above is from a story posted on June 15, 2021.

On Thursday, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo filed a lawsuit in the US District Court of Cleveland against the Pittsburgh Zoo and the PPG Aquarium for their unauthorized use of the Asian Lantern Festival, where they allegedly own a trademark.

Legal documents received from 3News indicate that the Cleveland Metroparks filed a verified injunction, and permanent injunction and damages for Pittsburgh Zoo’s use of the term, under the Cleveland Metropolitan Park District name.

In a statement to 3News, Cleveland Metroparks communications manager Jeff Tolman said the Pittsburgh Zoo attended the 2020 Asian Lantern Festival before creating promotional and marketing materials for a similar event in Pittsburgh for the summer of 2021 under the same brand name.

“The Asian Lantern Festival has become a staple of the summer in Cleveland and we want to protect our event and the reputation and success we have achieved over the past few years,” Tolman told 3News.

According to the Cleveland Metroparks, the Northeast Ohio Zoo has a court document agreement with Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc., a company specializing in Asian lighting, to open the festival to visitors under the name “Asian Lantern Festival,” , which they say “has not been used by any other company in the United States before”.

However, according to court documents, Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc. is slated to produce both exhibitions in Pittsburgh and Cleveland this summer.

Pittsburgh Zoo attorneys say Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s claim to the term is impossible, stating that Asian lantern festivals have existed for thousands of years and were more recently held in St. Petersburg, Florida; Louisville, Kentucky; Tuscon, Arizona; Des Moines, Iowa; and Providence, Rhode Island.

“The present motion – and the entirety of the above lawsuit – represents the plaintiff’s bold attempt to claim intellectual property rights in the phrase ‘Asian Lantern Festival’ when used in connection with an event, and names such an event, which draws on traditions of an Asian cultural festival that has existed for over two millennia and has recently been celebrated and immortalized in recognition of the historical festival and to share the various aspects of the rich cultural heritage of the original Chinese and Southeast Asian festivals, “a document written by the lawyers for reads the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo officials, however, claim that the Pittsburgh Zoo didn’t get their idea until after attending the Cleveland light show in 2020, and that two “Asian Lantern Festivals” this close together will confuse customers.

In 2021, the Pittsburgh Zoological Society of Pittsburgh a / k / a Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium (“Pittsburgh Zoo”) announced that it would be hosting its own inaugural light show event. The name “Asian Lantern Festival” is Cleveland Metroparks . Pittsburgh Zoo’s unauthorized use of the Asian Lantern Festival mark could confuse and deceive consumers and falsely lead them to believe that the Pittsburgh Zoo event is authorized, sponsored, approved, endorsed or licensed by Cleveland Metroparks, ”it said in a Cleveland Metropolitan Park District document.

The two festivals are also supposed to take place at the same time, which makes things even more complicated.

In addition, attorneys for the Pittsburgh Zoo allege that due to the generic nature of the term “Asian Lantern Festival”, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has no right to claim a trademark for that term.

Held in Cleveland for the first time in 2018, the festival has seen great success in the three years since its inception. Tolman tells 3News that the Asian Lantern Festival at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has drawn more than 150,000 visitors each summer since it began.

A hearing is scheduled for Thursday, July 15 at 2 p.m. Judge James S. Gwin will chair the session.

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