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Letters to the Editor: The Hollywood sign isn’t maintained for free. It deserves to be trademarked

The Hollywood sign looms in the hills next to Griffith Park over its namesake neighborhood in Los Angeles.
(Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: In their op-ed article, Susan Seager and Sachli Balazadeh-Nayeri ignore the nearly 100-year history of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in maintaining, reconstructing, protecting and promoting the Hollywood sign. The Chamber owns the rights to the world-famous staggered “Hollywood” stylized mark and has registered and licensed the mark worldwide.

We have been a steward of the Hollywood sign since the 1940s. That was the first but not the last time we stepped up to save the sign. In the 1970s the sign was nearly destroyed, but we rallied to rebuild it, letter by letter.

The Chamber, through its licensing revenue, is the sole funding source for the sign’s continuing maintenance and rehabilitation when necessary.

The writers claim that because the sign denotes a geographic location, it is incapable of registration. But the Chamber has obtained incontestable protection for the “Hollywood” mark by way of numerous trademark registrations in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China. This was tested in 2012 when a German court determined the “Hollywood” mark was a valid, protectable trademark in the Chamber’s lawsuit against a German department store that was using the mark without authorization.

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Through nearly 100 years of marketing, promotion and protection by the Chamber, the “Hollywood” mark has acquired a far broader meaning that speaks specifically to the American film, entertainment and fashion industries. This meaning has far eclipsed its original designation as a promotional tool and mark for a real estate development.

Bottom line, the Hollywood sign is protected under U.S. and international laws and cannot be used without the Chamber’s permission.

Rana Ghadban, Hollywood

The writer is president and chief executive of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.


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