Trademark dispute between High Bridge and museum may go to court

Trademark dispute between High Bridge and museum may go to court

Trademark disputeDon’t confuse Solitude House with Solitude House Museum. The house is a borough building, the museum is the name an organization now based in Union Township has trademarked.And the dispute between High Bridge and the Union Forge Heritage Association (UFHA) may end up in court. Earlier this year the nonprofit UFHA moved to a new headquarters, which its named the 1760 Joseph Turner House/Solitude Heritage Museum. It’s part of a state-owned property at 117 Van Syckles Road in Union Township, next to Spruce Run Reservoir.For 10 years until 2012, UFHA was based at Solitude House in High Bridge, where it leased the first floor which it used as a museum. But it could not agree with the borough on terms of a new lease, and moved out.

The borough earlier this year received a letter from UFHA stating that the group had obtained a trademark on the name “Solitude House Museum” and the borough should not use that name for its building, Councilwoman Victoria Miller said today.

Borough Council and its attorney, Barry Goodman, have discussed the dispute in closed “executive” session meetings. Miller said she could not discuss the legal aspects, saying Borough Adminstrator John Gregory should speak for the borough. He was not immediately available today to discuss the litigation.

In another trademark dispute, the Garden State Parkway earlier this year filed suit against a Florida pizza chain that uses a logo similar to the toll road’s trailblazer sign.

Miller believes the borough should be able to continue using the name for a building that was constructed around 1710-1725 and became the centerpiece of the iron plantation that became Union Forge Ironworks, later called Taylor Iron and Steel Co.

According to a posting on the UFHA Facebook page, High Bridge in June decided to oppose the trademark in court.

“The borough wished to take the name from us and use it as their own. The UFHA offered a compromise to the Borough of High Bridge for them to keep the name ‘Solitude House’ and we keep the name “Solitude House Museum”, but was summarily rejected by the Borough of High Bridge,” the statement says.

According to the group, its main intent in trademarking the name was to “protect our business interest and reputation, as ‘Solitude House Museum’ has become one in the same with UFHA and its reputation, high quality of events, lectures, projects and programs.

The borough welcomed the public to its Solitude House in July as part of the county-wide museum open house series for the Tricentennial, Miller said.

This came after “volunteers worked for weeks and weeks,” sprucing the place up and creating exhibits, she said. Around 300 people visited during the two weekends.

Meanwhile, the UFHA held a dedication ceremony and Independence Day picnic on July 5. The event was open to the public and included friends, family and patrons.

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