Oops, Naperville city officials got caught again. This time the City of Henderson, Nevada outed Naperville city officials by threatening a trademark infringement lawsuit for using the term ‘Water Street District’ to describe the recent new development in downtown Naperville along Water Street. The City of Henderson has its own ‘Water Street District’ with the name protected by registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2014.
Somebody or a bunch of ‘somebodies’ with the City of Naperville were not paying attention to detail. Is anybody in the legal department willing to stand up and take responsibility? Probably not. Maybe city attorney Michael DiSanto can shed some light on how this happened. Obviously the legal department in Henderson was paying attention.
Is it possible that the City of Henderson operates more efficiently than Naperville? It surely appears that way. Henderson has a population of approximately 300,000; about twice that of Naperville’s population of 145,000, yet while Naperville has nine city council members, Henderson needs only five to get the job done. It’s a simple matter of numbers. Henderson with twice the population and about half the council members, makes Henderson city officials four times more efficient. Attention to detail might be a municipal value, if nothing else Henderson city officials probably subscribe to theory of ‘trust but verify’.
Not one Naperville city official, including the nine members of the city council, and the legal department, said “Wow, ‘Water Street District’, what a cool name, is it trademarked? Maybe less time pounding down pancakes at Juicy O’s and more time in the office verifying trademarks and patents would be prudent for Naperville city officials and city attorney DiSanto.
Considering the fiasco of naming the ‘Water Street District’, Naperville councilman John Krummen made it crystal clear during January 15 city council meeting when he stated four times within 25 seconds that he is trying to re-brand the 5th avenue development as the “train station”
Apparently anybody living on 5th Avenue will now be living at the ‘train station’. Just when you think Naperville has solved the problem of homeless people by re-naming them as ‘street dwellers’, we’ll have a bunch of people living at the ‘train station’.
A few things we know for sure:
- Somebody will be doing a lot of verifying when it comes to naming the Fifth Avenue Development
- You won’t be seeing any council member wearing a ‘Water Street District’ shirt or cap
- Naperville city officials won’t be approving a bubbly drink named ‘Naperville Coke’
First, it would be a phenomenal waste of city resources to do a trademark search every time it entered into a private/public partnership. Especially in situation like this were it has been pointed out in the many discussion groups on this issue on online, if you google “Water Street District” you will get over a dozen cities with an area designated as “Water Street District”.
Second, because of the common usage of the name Water Street District the likelihood that this trademark would hold up if challenged in court is unlike. But challenging this would mean spending city resources and taxpayer dollars over what name the city uses to refer to this part of our downtown area (this settlement only applies to the city and its officials, not the downtown business community, not the Park District, not the DuPage County, not event promoters, etc). So it is a very lame victory by Henderson at best, who’s officials did waste city resources and taxpayer dollar getting.
Third, the city’s reason for referring to this area as the Water Street District, started with the fact that this is officially and legally the TIF Water Street District, as noted on the State documents required to establish this TIF District. And changing this designation on these documents is not something the city can do unilaterally.
Finally, it is no doubt only a matter of time until Henderson Officials make the mistake of doing this to a community with like minded officials, officials who are willing to waste city resources and taxpayer dollars over a name. At this time Henderson officials will find themselves in a court battle that Henderson will lose. To win they would have to prove they trademarked this name before any other city in the USA started using it and several eastern cities have had Water Street Districts for centuries, easily a hundred years before the city of Henderson ever existed.