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September 21, 2003

OCLC sues Library Hotel for Trademark Infringement

The Library Hotel, a scant walk from NYPL's Humanities and Social Sciences Library (the one with the lions), is laid out according to the Dewey Decimal system. What the hotel didn't realize, nor did I, is that this classification system is trademarked and owned by OCLC. (Libraries that use the system have to pay annual licensing fees.) OCLC, a nonprofit organization, has sued the hotel and seeks treble the hotel's profits since its opening, or treble damages, whichever is greater.

OCLC has to protect its trademark, true. But this does nothing positive for the image of librarians.

Update: NYT has its own article on the lawsuit.

Yours, &c., LC | 11:29 PM | Legal , Librariana | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

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I would certainly agree that they should have to pay whatever licensing fees would be involved and some punative amount. It sounds like the hotel owner is being a bit of a prat, but three times their profit? That's completely absurd.

Posted by: mrw at September 24, 2003 01:11 PM

The amount is probably what they're allowed to sue for by law, the idea being that with such damages at stake, people wouldn't want to risk infringement. But I'm not absolutely sure on that.

The hotel's legal department should have checked into the permissibility of using the Dewey Decimal system. OCLC has to defend its trademark; if it didn't then the court could find that it wasn't doing enough to protect the trademark and void the trademark, possibly putting it into public domain.

Posted by: LadyCrumpet at September 25, 2003 08:54 AM

Call me a cynic, but it sounds to me that OCLC just wants the money. If the hotel were a flop, or not across the street from one of the world's most famous libraries, I bet none of this would have happened.

Posted by: cyberlibrarian at October 5, 2003 08:34 PM