Telemarketer’s trademark claim forces “Shop With A Cop” to change its name
The first story I saw in this morning’s paper wasn’t about elections, or crime, or even the weather. It was this:
But after this year, don’t expect the program to be called by its widely recognized moniker “Shop with a Cop.”
Members of the Fraternal Order of Police Don Owens Memorial Lodge 88 received word that the catchy phrase for their charitable event has been trademarked, explained local lodge vice president and Bloomington police Detective Marty Deckard.
And use of that trademarked name comes with a cost. Deckard said the FOP received a letter from the man who trademarked “Shop with a Cop,” asking for $200 for use of the name each year. That cost is based on a community’s population, Deckard said.
I vaguely remembered a similarly story coming out of Evansville a few years ago, and sure enough, here’s the same charitable program in southern Indiana changing its name due to a copyright claim:
For nearly a decade, members of the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Department have raised money to take underprivileged children out Christmas shopping, picking out toys, clothes and presents for families that otherwise might have to forgo the holiday altogether.
[…] Just don’t call it “Shop with A Cop.”
That’s the name the event went by for nine years, but it’s been changed to “Shop with A Sheriff” after organizers learned an Ohio company holds a trademark on the title.
The company that holds the copyright is CJW, Inc., a small, private telemarketing company based in Ohio. The owner of CJW, Inc., is Edward Wiza.
Before starting CJW, Mr. Wiza was General Manager and Vice President for JAK Productions, the fundraising company at the center of the bankruptcy of the Indiana Troopers Association and the current problems with fundraising for the Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police. JAK Productions was also fined $300,000 by the Federal Trade Commission for violating telemarketing laws. Mr. Wiza was sued by JAK Productions for attempting to poach clients and taking confidential information with him when he left the firm in 1991.
According to court documents, Ed Wiza terminated his employment with JAK Productions on November 25, 1991. That is the same date CJW, Inc. claims as the “first use” in its trademark filings for “Shop With A Cop.” The trademark was officially filed on November 2, 1995, and finally registered on December 10, 1996.
It appears that the local FOP’s program predates CJW’s first use of the term, but it’s unclear whether the moniker started the same time as the program. According to the FOP Lodge 88 website, “Since 1990 during the month of December, FOP 88 has provided a joyful holiday for underprivileged children in the Monroe county [sic] area who, without this program, may not experience one.”
Ed Wiza defended his demand for money from the local FOP to the Herald Times:
Wiza said trademarking names and licensing the use of names strengthens organizations, because “people identify with the program, by using a name that’s well known and understood, they can save a lot of money in the advertising and fundraising process.”
“We live in the United States of America; you’ve got to pay to play,” Wiza said. “If you don’t make a profit, you can’t pay your taxes.”
As the Courier Press article noted in 2008, both “Shop With A Sheriff” and “Shop With A Deputy Sheriff” have been trademarked in the past. The Deputy variation was trademarked by the nonprofit San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Association Foundation, while the Sheriff variation was copyrighted by a promotions company in Tuscon, Arizona. Neither trademark appears to be active now.
If you’re interested in helping FOP 88’s “Shop With A Cop” program, you can donate online with PayPal here or drop off a check at any local police station.
UPDATE: Someone pointed me to an undated memo I originally saw referenced in a 2002 FOP newsletter. The memo (PDF link), citing a 2002 agreement between the FOP’s Grand Lodge and CJW, Inc., states that, “There is no fee for using the phrase [“Shop With A Cop”], so long as the lodge in question does not use a professional fund raising company.” The original Herald Times story does not mention any professional fundraising companies contracted by Lodge 88 here in Monroe County. So if this agreement is still in effect, and Lodge 88 has not hired an outside professional fundraising company, it would seem that CJW, Inc., is in violation of its own agreement. Which would make this story even more egregious. I’ll attempt to contact Mr. Wiza and the FOP Grand Lodge for clarification.