This Fourth of July, Americana is for everyone.
The company behind the upscale Americana Manhasset shopping center no longer has a trademark on the term "Americana" because it hasn't used the specific word to identify its new or existing properties in a decade, a federal judge in Brooklyn has ruled.
The decision clears the way for a California "lifestyle center" to retain its name of Americana at Brand, a mixed-use development of retail, residential and public parkland.
In a June 15 decision, District Judge Leonard Wexler ruled against Americana Manhasset's parent company, Fifth Avenue of Long Island Realty Associates, who early last year sued Caruso Management Company, challenging the name of its "lifestyle center" in Glendale, near Los Angeles, built in 2009.
Fifth Avenue of Long Island Realty had first trademarked the term "Americana" in 1993 and renewed its application in the years since, and contended the California development's name infringed on the trademark. The company also has a trademark, which lasts three years, on the phrase "Americana Manhasset" and related phrases.
The Long Island company claimed because the California development also had retail stores, customers could be confused between the two. The company cited one shopper who tried to buy an Americana at Brand gift card online but ended up at the Americana Manhasset website and bought a gift card for that mall.
Caruso filed a counterclaim, arguing that the "Americana" trademark had been abandoned in the past decade because of lack of use.
Wexler agreed and canceled the trademark, saying the Long Island company has not used "Americana" in years and noted that the company has strictly enforced marketing of its luxury mall as Americana Manhasset, not just Americana.
He also found that consumer confusion was not likely to be an issue, since the two companies, separated by 3,000 miles, had no plans to develop in each other's territory and offered different retail experiences to shoppers.
"We are very pleased with the court's careful and thorough decision vindicating our client and allowing Americana at Brand to move forward with the use of its name," said Michael Carlinsky of Manhattan, a lawyer for Caruso.
Calls to Fifth Avenue of Long Island Realty Associates and its lawyers were not returned Friday.
The term "Americana" in the national culture was so popular, Wexler wrote, that it almost belies exclusivity."The court can scarcely imagine a more general term, or one that could more easily be applied to any area of the marketing of any good or service marketed in the country," he wrote.