Apparently not just anyone can wear the crown in the Queen City.
A city spokesman sent an email to Occupy Charlotte notifying them that using the city's crown logo without permission constitutes a copyright violation. Keith Richardson wrote that they must stop using the image, which the group repurposed with a red fist in the background, and go through a "permission process" that would take an unspecified amount of time to complete.
Occupy Charlotte member Scottie Wingfield said the copyright infringement allegation is the latest in a string of obstacles it's faced from the city. As part of the Coalition to Protest at the Democratic National Convention, Occupy is still waiting for the city to officially outline how to apply for permits to protest at the convention. A Jan. 23 ordinance limiting areas to demonstrate and a recent list of prohibited items at DNC events, including water bottles and backpacks, have been a point of contention for Wingfield and the group.
"Sometimes the city just throws stuff to see what sticks," she said.
But Richardson insists the city is not blacklisting Occupy Charlotte.
He said the city took notice of the logo on Occupy's website when it was featured on the same page that solicited donations appeared. As a matter of policy, he said, the city sends a letter to those who use the crown logo without permission since they are in violation of using a service mark that has been registered with the N.C. Secretary of State since 1983. Organizations are welcome to use any other kind of crown logo without permission, just not the city's.
"We're not targeting Occupy Charlotte," Richardson said. "It's not an indictment of what they're advocating at all."
Occupy's Laurel Green designed the logo based on her research about the city's namesake, Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. She said she thinks the monarch, who is the subject of the group's community eight-foot portrait that will debut in time for the DNC, would have supported their movement.
"She was quite radical," she said.
Despite the city's letter, Occupy Charlotte has no plans to remove the logo from their website or materials.
"The only modification we might make is to add 'Wall Street South,'" Green said.
Looks like the city of Charlotte can share the crown after all. A mere few hours after we published this article, the city confirmed that OC's use of the Queen City symbol is legal. While the city prefers that the activist group not use the logo at all, it does not violate the city's legal rights and said they will not pursue the matter at this time. Three weeks ago, the city sent a form letter to OC stating they had to remove the crown logo from their website and materials. Katy Parker, legal director of ACLU of North Carolina, then emailed the city attorney on behalf of OC stating the crown logo constituted fair use. The city attorney finally responded to that email late yesterday afternoon.
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